Despite of the bad connotation usually seen with companies that base its business on advertising, many of them can survive public critisism and actually enjoy of a good reputation – such as Google. That said, it's a bit shocking to hear of a Senator from South Carolina propose that search engines returning links based on advertising partners rather than content relevance have severe penalties applied to them – including monetary fines in the millions of dollars and even jailtime for the CEOs behind the companies! The article brings up a good point:
The three most popular search engines, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft's MSN are principally advertising resellers. So the more pages bearing their advertisements they return, the more likely they are to prosper. It's a commercial conflict of interest that none of the big three have yet to address, let alone resolve.
And yet, companies like Google and Yahoo claim to be entirely about relevance, not about advertisement. Definitely an interesting conundrum.