You know, they always say the well is poisoned in Washington. That it's a nasty place — an ugly place.

I don't buy that.

Actually, I find it quite collegial — sickeningly so.

Look at this whole Roland Burris mess.

Oh, sure, plenty say he shouldn't get a Senate seat, but it has nothing to do with Burris apparently. He's wonderful. It's just that crackpot who appointed him.

Of course, Burris became "wonderful" when he came to Washington and wouldn't leave Washington, then started being treated like a rock star in Washington.

Then this pariah seemed to become a prince. A charmer. Eminently qualified. A resume made for the Senate.

And don't you believe a word of that nasty Leon Panetta talk, that he has no business running the CIA. Apparently, Leon is still smart, very talented — almost brilliant — and one of the classiest guys Diane Feinstein knows. She just wanted to know before anyone else, I guess, that Leon was the guy for the CIA, because before that, he was none of those things.

You see, in Washington, people change their minds. They have to. Because things change too.

After all, these guys have to work with each other. So even President Bush, who Democrats seem to portray as nothing short of Darth Vader with a low IQ, is still a very nice guy and a very decent chap. A disaster, they always add, but a charming disaster.

That's Washington: Where they can stab you in the back and the front and no one knows what hit you or who did the hitting.

That's why Dick Cheney stands out from this bunch. Only he would have the temerity to tell a Vermont senator — for whom he had little respect — to, I think it rhymes with "elf off," on the floor of the Senate, no less. The same Senate where they zealously covet their seats and the substantial asses who sit in them.

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