An angry inquiry into the putative decline of democracy in the US. Unlike many observers, Greider (Secrets of the Temple, 1987, etc.) goes beyond the manifest deficiencies of electoral campaigns to focus on the politics of governance--and he concludes that so-called monied interests are ascendant in Washington's power centers. By the author's anecdotal account, the institutionalized intervention of these corporate advocates into administrative as well as legislative affairs costs ordinary citizens dearly--from purposefully lax enforcement of federal law and indulgent treatment of casino capitalism through an inequitable tax system. In Greider's canon, the sorry state of the union does not lack for guilty parties. He blames the ebb of democracy in America on both major political parties (which cater to affluent elites), the press (which no longer mediates between the public and its representatives), big business (as exemplified by the awesome influence wielded by General Electric Co.), and even the populace (whose activism has been limited of late to grass-roots concerns). Greider goes on to argue that the cold war's end offers the US a historic opportunity to renew its democratic principles and to apply them on a global basis. For starters, he proposes that a citizenry committed to challenging the status quo could make multinational enterprises more accountable to society at large, if need be by denying them access to the vast domestic marketplace until they measure up to populist standards of responsibility. Whether the heterogeneous American people have an agenda as explicitly progressive as Greider assumes (and embraces) will strike many as a very open question. Still, a provocative and sobering assessment of how self-government's reach can exceed its grasp.