In case you were wondering what all those retiring and defeated lawmakers do with themselves once banished from Capitol Hill, I have a simple answer for you: they get paid.

Take Tony Blair, the former British prime minister. In September, Mr. Blair was called to Claridge’s hotel in London to mediate a renegotiation of the proposed acquisition of Xstrata by Glencore, according to British news reports. Mr. Blair, who negotiated peace in Northern Ireland, put his skills to good use, apparently earning himself roughly $1 million for three hours of work [...]

Remember Dan Quayle? Since 2000, the former vice president has worked at the hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management, where he is now chairman of the advisory board. His pay is not disclosed, but it is probably well into the millions if not more [...]

Al Gore shows that you can use Wall Street to become superrich and do it in the name of a cause, all while building your own franchise. Mr. Gore is a co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management and a senior partner of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. He’s also a senior adviser to Google and a member of Apple’s board, where he has options on about 98,000 Apple shares, according to the company’s last proxy statement. Apple, by the way, is trading at about $580 a share. You do the math [...]

Sometimes it’s not for a cause, but simply for the money. Mr. Gore’s former boss, Bill Clinton, is most widely known in his post-presidential period for his work with the Clinton Global Initiative. But the former president has also made millions working in finance. Mr. Clinton was an adviser to Ronald W. Burkle’s investment firm, the Yucaipa Companies, and made at least $15 million in that position.

And this is just at the high level. Lobbyist jobs and Wall Street sinecures await virtually everyone who once had an executive branch or Congressional office. If it’s not that, then like Clinton, banks and hedge funds will just pay you millions to give a speech. And ultimately, this backstop matters more than money within the system. Keeping your old job is one thing. But if your next job depends on good relations with the biggest corporations in America, in the expectation of a return favor after the Washington career ends, you’re going to stay on your best behavior.

And this of course works both ways; that’s way the door is described as revolving. Eric Holder may parachute out of the Justice Department. I’m sure plenty of Wall Street lawyers are polishing their resumes in anticipation of that open gig. After all, Holder came from (and will probably return to) Covington and Burling.