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Is US a nation of liars? Casey Anthony isn't the only one.

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•Baseball slugger Barry Bonds was found guilty by a San Francisco jury in April of obstructing justice by giving an evasive answer to a grand jury looking into doping allegations. He may be retried on a more serious perjury charge.

•Roger Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, was also standing trial for statements he gave about doping – in his case, for allegedly lying to Congress by denying the use of steroids, despite a mountain of evidence against him. But on July 14, the judge in the case declared a mistrial. He set a Sept. 2 hearing to discuss where the case goes next, if anywhere.

Ethicists say there is, in some cases, moral justification for not quite living up to George Washington's "I cannot tell a lie" maxim. But the recent spate of lying scandals nevertheless hints at a deeper problem, some say: that serious lies and outright cheating have gotten so pervasive – or at least so well publicized – that they no longer register for many as a moral failing. Yet the justice system, the political system, and even democracy itself can't function if they're built on a foundation of fibs, insist legal experts, ethicists, and others.

"This culture of accepted cheating and lying tends to empower the people at the top and ... amplifies the inequality in our society, all of which has negative ramifications," says David Callahan, author of "The Cheating Culture." "It sort of moves us more toward Russia or Brazil with oligarchs who can do whatever they want. We're not that bad, but we could be headed in that direction."

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