Adam L. Penenberg
In the fringes of Capitol Hill, a few long blocks northeast of the Capitol and a block from the United States Supreme Court, the Hart Senate Building seems like a mammoth, million-square-foot afterthought. Unlike the neoclassical grace of nearby houses of government, the Hart building is decidedly contemporary, even as it shared the same white marble skin. Across the mall, the cramped Capitol, with its famous dome and history, may have been the site for formal meetings of the House and Senate, but the real business of government, the nitty-gritty of legislation, deal making, back slapping and back stabbing happened here and in the adjoining Dirksen Senate Office Building.
But in the year 2000, as the death toll rose and public confidence in the two manufacturers plummeted, trust would be in short supply. The companies’ survival depended on convincing consumers and government investigators that the other was at fault for crashes that claimed almost 300 lives, and crippled hundreds more.
Only one of them could win back the public; otherwise they both could lose.