WASHINGTON — Kenneth Lewis, the chief executive of Bank of America Corp., may have been the one in the hot seat at a House hearing Thursday, but much of the criticism appeared directed at Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson, the former Treasury secretary.

For nearly two and a half hours, lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee peppered the B of A chief with questions about his company's deal for Merrill Lynch, which closed only after the government chipped in $20 billion.

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