In general, the main function of rulers and leaders has been to siphon of the work and wealth of the many to themselves and their associates. This applies to both business and politics.
The latest bailout plan is more of the same. The top financial people want to escape the burning wrecks of their once great companies on their golden parachutes (or row boats, to continue the ship metaphor). Naturally, they want to hit the ground with millions of untouched assets.
While the executives drift away, the taxpayers are supposed to bear the burden of repairing the wrecks and getting the economic fleet back afloat. To the Bush administration, this seems to be the right thing to do. Naturally, the top executives think this is just great-they stay rich and everyone else gets to clean up the wreckage they left behind in their climb towards all that wealth.
While supporting such parasites is business as usual, there is always the risk that the parasites will take too much and do too much damage. This can cause the host body to weaken badly or even die. While this has not been the sole factor in the fall of nations and empires, this sort of behavior has been a major contributing factor. It is tolerated and even encouraged because the top parasites are either in charge or are in cahoots with those who are supposed to be keeping an eye on them. While this happens in all administrations, the Bush administration has been breaking new ground (or perhaps just returning to old grounds).
Ideally, the people behind the damage would pay for what they have done. After all, they have done massive damage to the economy and hence to millions of people. The Presidential candidates are talking about this, but I suspect that little will change-politics is, after all, about siphoning off wealth and power from the many to the few. The names and faces change, but the game remains the same.