I think part of it is hypocrisy. Lots of Republicans drink alcohol to excess, use illegal drugs, commit petty crimes as youths and have abortions (not all at the same time). Although their attitude is that people should be punished for such activities, when the son or daughter of a Republican gets in trouble over one of the above listed items, they usually get off without jail time.
Another component is probably class-based. If you don't feel threatened or constrained by conservative, middle-class white people's beliefs; you find it hard to understand what the fuss is all about. In law school, during a discussion of search-and-seizure cases, a conservative student observed that "if you haven't done anything wrong why should you care if they search" your car, home or person? That attitude is in evidence during the debate over President Bush's extra-constitutional eavesdropping.
Poor people can't get basic medical care? They should get a job. Oh, they have a job but it doesn't include health insurance? Change the subject. But god forbid that government should tax your cigarettes or the inherited fortune you worked so hard to earn. Conservative godfather William F. Buckley once observed that no one cowers in their home home at night because they are afraid of being embezzled. There's some truth in that. But that doesn't mean you should discount economic crimes that can devastate families (think Enron, Worldcom, etc.) while spending vast sums to incarcerate marijuana smokers.
Republicans have used "tough on crime" campaigns successfully for decades. Yet they often set odd priorities in their pursuit of justice. The recent announcement that the Bush Administration has declared "Eco-Terrorists" the number 1 domestic terror threat -- even though they have never killed anyone, unlike the anti-abortionists, the neo-nazis, the homophobic bombers, etc. -- reminds us how much Republicans value "property" over privacy. This is despite the fact that, since the Oklahoma City bombing (a far-right terrorist act that killed 168 people, including babies) at least 15 law enforcement officers have been murdered by right-wing extremists. The Southern Poverty Law Center even has a helpful map that lists the number of hate groups resident in each state. I guess between imposing "democracy" on the Middle East and rounding up arson-inclined hippies, there just hasn't been time left to go after right-wing threats.
The trail of destruction left by these defendants across the western United States caused millions of dollars in damage to public and private facilities.
US Attorney General