Incumbency definitely has its luxuries, and there is perhaps no greater symbol of the perks of running for re-election as president of the United States than Air Force One.
The Boeing 747, which costs $179,750 an hour to operate, transports the commander-in-chief and his family and staff on major trips regardless of whether they are for official or unofficial, political purposes.
So why is President Barack Obama's use of the airplane in Election 2012 coming under scrutiny?
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The president has given a ride to at least one major campaign contributor and made fundraising calls from Air Force One, but those aren't the only thing that have Republicans crying foul. Their most recent complaint is over the blurring over the line between what the president describes as his official trips and his political travel.
The differences can be subtle, but they ultimately decide who pays for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs associated with the president's use of Air Force One.
An official trip is one in which the president explains and tries to win support for his administration's policies, and taxpayers foot the bill. A political trip is one in which the president serves as the de facto leader of his political party to attend, say, fundraisers, campaign rallies or party events. Political campaigns cover much of the cost of those trips.
But the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, alleges Obama has been guilty of "passing off" campaign events as official business - "thereby allowing taxpayers, rather than his campaign, to pay for his reelection efforts," he wrote.
Priebus has sought an investigation from the Government Accountability Office to no avail, saying many of the president's trips to important swing states amount to little more than electioneering and benefit the Obama for America committee.
"Because this behavior shows no sign of changing, action must be taken with haste to protect the taxpayers who are being cheated by their government," Priebus wrote.
The Obama White House has made a point of stating the president's campaign and Democratic Party reimburse taxpayers for political trips, as they have done in previous administrations. But it remains unclear how the White House decides which trips are political and which are for official business.
"When they travel and appear in public to defend their policy positions, the difference between their official duties and their activities as leaders of their political party can be difficult to assess," the Congressional Research Service reported in 2012.
"As a result, the White House decides the nature of travel on a case-by-case basis, attempting to determine whether each trip, or part of a trip, is or is not official by considering the nature of the event involved, and the role of the individual involved."
That gray area is certainly not exclusive to the Obama White House. In 2004, The Associated Press reported that then-President George W. Bush was "using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor, wringing maximum political mileage from a perk of office paid for by taxpayers."
And a couple of decades ago, The Los Angeles Times reported that then-President George H.W. Bush made more political trips "than any president in history" before the 1990 midterm elections. "By mixing official and political travel," the newspaper found, Bush let taxpayers on the hook for much of the cost.
That both parties do it and get away with it, of course, does mean such activity should be permissible. Republicans and Democrats alike can agree that wasteful spending should not be tolerated even at the highest levels of government, and that requiring a clearer accounting of a president's use of Air Force One can do no harm.
"Sunlight," Brandeis once wrote, "is said to be the best of disinfectants."