George W. Bush (2001-2009) was elected President in 2000 even though his Democrat opponent Vice President Al Gore had won the nation-wide vote count by more than 500,000. The Electoral College outcome was determined by a controversial vote count in Florida. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court decided (5 to 4) that Bush won in Florida. George W. Bush became the 43rd U.S. President. His father George H. W. Bush was the 41st President for a single term (1989-1993). In his first year, President G. W. Bush withdrew U.S. support for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gases, signed into law a $1.3 trillion tax cut, and appointed Robert Mueller as the Director of the FBI.

During the 1990s, telecommunications companies, convinced that the future economy would require ubiquitous broadband access, went deeply into debt to improve their networks. State and local governments funded technology infrastructure and created favorable business and tax law to encourage companies to expand. Between 1995 and 2000, the Nasdaq Composite stock market index rose 400% as investments in technology-based companies led to a stock market bubble. From 2000 to 2002, regulatory decisions, scandals, and bankruptcies in the industry led investors to lose confidence and a crash in telecom stocks followed. By the end of the stock market downturn of 2002, the NASDAQ was at 32% of its peak.

In an infamous 911 attack on September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four planes and crashed them into the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, into the Pentagon building near Washington, D.C., and into a field in Pennsylvania when forced down short of target. In all, nearly 3,000 people died and over 6,000 were injured. Along with the entire country, the MSU community was shocked and saddened by the tragedy as we watched it unfold on TV.

On Oct. 7, 2001, the U.S. and allies invaded and occupied Afghanistan, the country where the Al-Qaeda organization planned the 9/11 attack and trained the terrorists, most of whom were originally from Saudi Arabia. The war in Afghanistan became the longest war in American history.

In 2002, the No Child Left Behind (Education) Act was signed into law. The Department of Homeland Security was created as part of the largest U.S. government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947.

Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing the President to use the United States Armed Forces as deemed necessary and appropriate, against Iraq. In 2003, a U.S.-led coalition invaded and occupied Iraq with the aim of eradicating both Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. Iraq in fact had no weapons of mass destruction.

President George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, defeating Democrat Senator John Kerry. That year Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Firefox was first released by Mozilla, and Tom Brokaw (a part-time resident of Big Timber, MT) retired from television news casting on NBC. Analog television broadcasts ended in the United States when stations were required to send their signals digitally. The Federal hate crime law was extended to include crimes motivated by a victim's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. By 2006, Facebook was generally available on computers. 

The housing finance bubble, brought on by the indiscrete financial marketing of subprime mortgages granted to borrowers with poor credit histories, burst in the summer 2007. The "Great Recession" began, collapsing the real estate and financial industries. It became the worst economic downturn in the U.S. since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Approximately 8.7 million (about 7%) U.S. jobs were lost. The economy bottomed out in mid-2009 and began a slow recovery. A report by the Federal Reserve said that U.S. families lost a record 18% of their wealth in 2008. The Unemployment Rate would peak at 10% but stay above 9% for two more years. The total number of jobs did not return to 2007 levels until 2014.

In the 2008 election, Senator Barak Hussein Obama (President: 2009-2017) was elected to be the 44th U.S. President, defeating Republican Senator John McCain. In his inaugural address, President Obama spoke to the largest crowd ever assembled in the Nation’s capital, more than one-and-a-half-million people. Determined to turn around the Great Recession that already had caused millions of Americans to lose their homes, the Obama administration formulated an economic stimulus package of $800 billion.3

National Events during Era 10
 Next: Era 10 (Statistics Program at MSU)

Table of Contents

Last revised: 2021-04-19