Expecting a bailout…
In the 1980’s, there were bankers and other finical professionals who invested in real estate. They operated savings and loans. Taking peoples money and making mortgage loans. These loans would be backed by the federal government. However as Congress deregulated the industry (from Wikipedia):
Although the deregulation of S&Ls gave them many of the capabilities of banks, it did not bring them under the same regulations as banks. First, thrifts could choose to be under either a state or a federal charter. Immediately after deregulation of the federally chartered thrifts, the state-chartered thrifts rushed to become federally chartered, because of the advantages associated with a federal charter. In response, states (notably, California and Texas) changed their regulations so they would be similar to the federal regulations. States changed their regulations because state regulators were paid by the thrifts they regulated, and they didn’t want to lose that money.
Imprudent real estate lending
In an effort to take advantage of the real estate boom (outstanding US mortgage loans: 1976 $700 billion; 1980 $1.2 trillion)and high interest rates of the late 1970s and early 1980s, many S&Ls lent far more money than was prudent, and to risky ventures which many S&Ls were not qualified to assess. L. William Seidman, former chairman of both the FDIC and the Resolution Trust Corporation, stated, “The banking problems of the ’80s and ’90s came primarily, but not exclusively, from unsound real estate lending.” 
The result? New laws and a taxpayer bailout of risky investments. Massive FAIL. Many people lost large amounts of money. The courts would resolve the worst cases, several politicians would find their careers cut short. This crisis may even have helped cause the 1990-1991 recession.
You would think that Congress would learn. Yet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are being taken over by the government.
During the early 2000’s, mortgage companies began backing loans where:
* The credit score threshold for conventional mortgages, which had generally been 670 or more, dropped to about 630. In the real world, a score of 630 indicates that you’re having trouble with your debt load, paying your bills on time, or a little of both.
* More ominously, the credit score threshold for subprime mortgages, which had generally been 630 or more, fell to about 590. A score of 590 is the credit scoring equivalent of barely having a pulse.
But these were backed by the Government. They were actually owned in part by the government. So once again we come full circle. Possibly another recession, new laws and efforts to try and curb bad behavior.
However one of the figures in the S&L crisis is running for president. The media, for all it’s doom saying about the economy, did NOTHING to warn about the mortgage crisis. Most of the reports of the takeover have been positive. However, history is ripe with examples of government FAIL when it tires to run a business.
Time will tell if McCain has learned from history. Wall Street, Our Congress, and media have not.