Foreign governments hiring firms to polish their image, build relationships with key American policy makers, or hiring think tanks to issue reports favorable to their view, is different. It is no longer about Americans trying to influence their own government, but foreign governments seeking to influence the American government, and in many cases, trying to influence American public opinion as well. These practices are now widespread in Washington and have become an important part of how policy is made. There is nothing illegal about any of this as long as the firms in question report their contracts as required by American law. Yet these practices take on something of an absurdist twist when countries which receive ample financial support from the U.S. hire firms to lobby on their behalf, creating a situation where the U.S. government is, at least in part, paying lobbying firms to lobby the U.S. government.