Debra J. Saunders

The big irony is that, as The New York Times revealed, the contract Nardelli signed with Home Depot when the company recruited him in 2000 is the reason he walked away with a $210 million goodbye kiss. The CEO cut a good deal when he was hot, and cashed in when he was not.

You know you've arrived in America when you get paid more not to work than to work.

Too bad some creative corporate lawyer didn't figure out a way to pay Nardelli his excessive salary only, while making him the CEO of coffee and doughnuts or something.

Frank wants the U.S. House of Representatives to get into the act, but there are elements to this story that show the problem is taking care of itself.

Last year, shareholders revolted. Nardelli didn't help himself when, at a shareholder meeting, he stonewalled questions that malcontents directed toward his pay package. Angry shareholders fought back -- 30 percent withheld their votes for 10 of the 11 Home Depot board directors. The love was gone.

As The Associated Press reported, a group of shareholders is suing Home Depot to pull the cord on the golden parachute -- arguing that the company "will suffer additional irreparable harm if Nardelli" gets the whole package. Already, the Home Depot board voted to require that hereafter two-thirds of its independent directors -- instead of a majority -- approve a chief executive's compensation.

New Securities and Exchange Commission rules will make it harder for boards to hide what they are paying their top guns. As Martha Stewart would say, that's a "good thing." If you believe in the free market, you should be rooting for an end to the welfare state for CEOs.

Debra J. Saunders

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