The thrift industry has been unusually quiet in recent years. Once powerful enough to bully regulators and legislators alike, the nation's savings and loans seemed to lose their political voice as the tab for the thrift bailout mounted.

In fact, the industry has pretty much been persona non grata on Capitol Hill since 1989, when the bailout law was enacted. Thrift lobbyists had little access and less clout. The industry almost seemed humble.

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