On Monday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sounded serious when he read out to the Likud faction in the Knesset that "taking the nation to early elections now would be irresponsible." A day later, Sharon went to the president and advanced the elections. So what happened to responsibility?

When Sharon, Silvan Shalom, Limor Livnat and Ruby Rivlin demand, in the name of responsibility, that the Labor Party vote in favor of the budget "at this difficult hour," it's worth remembering how they behaved two years ago, in the waning days of 2000, when Ehud Barak brought a budget to the Knesset.

Avraham Shochat, then finance minister, begged them to allow him to pass the budget so the state didn't go into 2001 without a budget, with all its negative ramifications - and the intifada was already raging. But they are responsible nationalist people so they looked him in the eye and laughed. Some even said to him "we won't allow the Barak government any achievements. We want power."

So, they voted with Shas and passed the fifth child allowance and the Negev Law, which caused sharp deviations from the budget - but it was all in the name of responsibility for they are responsible people. At the time, Rivlin said he was ready to make a deal with the devil just to win power.

In other words, the Likud's