This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor.
Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan has been sentenced to 6½ years in prison for a variety of corruption charges.
Ryan became world famous for his opposition to the death penalty. But for years while he was in state government, he regularly let cronies exploit state business. Worst of all, while Ryan was secretary of state, he sold truckers licenses to people who couldn't — or shouldn't — have received them.
Oddly enough, I was once on a dais with Ryan at a charity dinner in Illinois when he was secretary of state. As a joke, I invoked the late Paul Powell, the Illinois secretary of state who famously horded thousands of checks with his name on them sent in by dutiful taxpayers.
As I was making the joke, Ryan almost came out of his suit. I didn't think much of it at the time, but who would have guessed then that the man who would later become governor and be talked about as a possible Nobel Prize winner would be guilty of the same sins.
Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many across the country.
By Harry Smith
Copyright 2006 CBS. All rights reserved.