From remarks by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) at a House Government Reform Committee hearing on political fund-raising Wednesday:

In the past 38 months this committee has uncovered little new. But we have settled into a familiar and predictable pattern.

Phase one begins with the chairman making a sensational and unsubstantiated allegation. After that, a newspaper headline follows.

And then we move into phase two, when [Committee Chairman Dan] Burton pledges he won't rest until he gets the facts because the American people have a right to know.

Phase three involves getting the facts, which invariably don't support the original allegations. . . .

Phase four [is] when the chairman accuses the White House, the president, Janet Reno, the Justice Department or Democrats on this committee of stonewalling, obstructing justice or covering up. And Mr. Burton generally says he won't stop until he gets what he wants because the American people have a right to know.

Phase five is . . . when the White House, the Justice Department or the FBI capitulates, and we actually receive the information [that] was said to be a smoking gun. But . . . that material never seems to support the original allegations.

At that point we enter phase six: forget the original allegations, forget the facts, pretend it never happened and don't admit a mistake. Instead, make a new, sensational and unsubstantiated allegation. Go back to phase one and hope no one ever notices.