Great White Chiefs

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In recent weeks, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have been vilified for criticizing a sitting president. And veteran reporter Helen Thomas has been targeted by the Republican National Committee, whose members were instructed to "call her out" for deeming G. W. Bush "the worst president in all of American history." But if former presidents can't speak out and 82-year-old icons are intimidated, who will champion the America we love? William J. Ridings and Stuart B. McIver offer a solution.

Authors of "RATING THE PRESIDENTS: A Ranking of U.S. Leaders, From the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Corrupt," they polled hundreds of academics and historians throughout the U.S. and Europe and rated presidents in terms of leadership, political skill, appointments, accomplishments and crisis management and character and integrity.

As is the case with any such list, it's open for nitpicking, but even so, delving into the lives and words of our nation's finest connects us to America's beacons. And though reminders of our noble birth and traditional values underscore how far we've fallen, these sentiments remain in the hearts of patriots everywhere.

Here, then, is a sampling of ideals set forth by our best and brightest, in contrast to those we presently endure:

Hail to the Chiefs: