The Teapot Dome Scandal refers to a particularly shady land deal that went on during the height of the Warren G. Harding Administration. The idea of conservation had just begun to spring up, and had gained traction in response to some of the events of the Great War, so oil reserves were established in Wyoming and California for exclusive use by the U.S. Navy. One of these oil fields was known as the Teapot Dome, mostly because of an enormous boulder in the area that happens to look remarkably like a teapot. It did a little dance and everything.
The notion of all that delicious, juicy, untapped oil just sitting around, unused, drove several politicians crazy. New Mexico Senator Albert Fall, perhaps the biggest opponent of conservation, managed to convince the Secretary of the Navy to trade the reserves to the Department of the Interior, who then (coincidentally) leased the rights to Mammoth Oil. Oddly enough, this wasn’t actually illegal. What was illegal was the $404,000 that the Senator received in exchange for the deal, a process known in obscure political circles as ‘bribery’.
The whole matter would have probably remained quiet if Senator Fall hadn’t decided to throw caution to the wind and start throwing money around like nobody’s business. An investigation was soon launched, the truth came out, and Senator Fall was convicted of bribery and sentenced to a year in prison. The whole scandal became a symbol for government corruption, but because that is such a unique occurrence in United States history, it would always be remembered by politicians and nothing like it would ever happen again.