Smart Mobs pointed me at this website, THEY RULE, which has to be one of the coolest tools I’ve seen in a long time. The websites objective, according to the website, is:

“They Rule aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the US ruling class. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others. They Rule is a starting point for research about these powerful individuals and corporations.”

You can type in two companies names and find out how they are connected. For example, IBM is connected to Microsoft because John Brooks Slaughter, one of IBM’s directors, sits on the Northrop Grumman board with Charles H. Noski. Noski sits on Microsoft’s board:
IBM – John Brooks Slaugher – Northrop Grumman – Charles H. Noski – Microsoft

These are the people that have strong influence in America’s economy, politics and therefore society. Have fun!

P.S. A similar example of political networks that I found on the They Rule website is this map of who contributed to Bush’s campaign funding.