Looking at perceived corruption in the public sector, a report last month found that the United States had slipped from being the 19th least corrupt nation—behind Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore, and its neighbor Canada—to 22nd, behind Chile and Ireland. "Our rating is pretty awful," says Frank Vogl, cofounder of Transparency International, which puts together the annual report. He figures the drop has been influenced by a series of scandals at the state and city level, such as the September arrests of the mayor and city manager of Bell, Calif., accused of taking $5.5 million from the city.