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Chances are slim to none that Mary Barra, General Motors Co.

(GM) chief executive officer, can do much but apologize, nod ruefully, answer questions, and otherwise abase herself and GM when she appears before Congress next week.

Hanging over her head, as well as the heads of other GM executives, could be a criminal prosecution, just like the one that pressured Toyota last week to agree to a $1.2 billion fine and three years probation. Not that the government definitely intends or is likely to charge her -- but, hey, who could take such a chance by showing anything but remorse?

Once the klieg lights and TV cameras are switched on, anything might happen. More than a few members of Congress bear a grudge over facets of the 2009 GM bankruptcy, including the way it was used as an instrument -- remember "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt"? -- to undermine Mitt Romney's presidential bid.



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