We're talking about real crimes and serious ones, too; felonies, some involving national security, and some that are, IMO, as important as national security (i.e., buying the legislative process lock, stock, and barrel is as great a threat to the functioning of our democracy as any foreign threat; indeed, with multinational corporations today with allegiance to no border, it's the same damned thing if they're calling the shots in Washington).
So they themselves are making the equation: conservatism is lawlessness run amok; it endangers national security, it is sleaze personified.
Hope that cleared everything up for you. It'll be great fodder for Democratic politicians the 2006 elections. The only thing I'd add is that not only is governing with criminality the style of conservatives, but also being inherently anti-democratic; it's why they attack liberals so much. They just don't seem to like folks having civil liberties, I think.