After 12 years of Republican rule, the first two years of Bill Clinton's presidency have been like a trip to the candy store for the nation's banks. Regulatory relief? You got it. Interstate branching? No problem. Glass-Steagall repeal? Let's save something for next year, all right?

By contrast, the Bush years were more like a visit to the dentist's office -- without novocaine. The thrift bailout was a neCessary evil, but it poisoned the legislative environment for banks and thrifts.

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