(CBS News) Members of Congress are widely regarded as the nation's shakers and movers. But behind them, unseen, are a powerful force of lobbyists shaping everything from the national dialogue to the actual laws Americans will have to follow. Sharyl Attkisson gives us a rare and exclusive peek behind the sometimes shadowy lobbyists' curtain in Washington, D.C.:
"The Catholic Church has lobbyists," said Professor James Thurber. "The Boy Scouts have lobbyists. The AFL-CIO has lobbyists. Apple does. Everybody has a lobbyist."
No one knows the business of Washington lobbying better than Thurber. He helped write a report on lobbying reform for the American Bar Association, and he teaches a course to aspiring lobbyists at American University.
His definition of a lobbyist: "Someone who advocates for someone else and is getting paid for it."
The fingerprints of lobbyists are all over daily life. They defeated plans to cap credit card interest rates.
They made pizza count as a vegetable on school lunch menus.
They wrote a lot of the health care reform law.
Thurber estimates $9 billion is spent every year on lobbying and related advocacy. A top lobbyist can make millions.
Watch my entire Emmy Award-winning investigation here: