March 23, 2005--The temperature in Tucson was high, as was the level of debate inside this year's 23rd annual Inc. 500 conference, where CEOs of America's fastest-growing companies gathered to share ideas and delve into their businesses.

Some 100 business leaders responded to Inc.'s survey about business conditions, which gave surprising insight into the minds of small-business owners. For example, 38% chose Michael Dell as the entrepreneur they most admired (and, coincidentally, one of Inc.'s Entrepreneurs We Love in the April 2005 issue, followed by 23% for Bill Gates. Meanwhile, 47% selected Dick Cheney as the person they'd most like to run their company, followed by Oprah Winfrey (16%), Bill Belichick (15%), and Mel Gibson (13%).

Halliburton aside, the entrepreneurs held a tough view of corporate life. About 59% said that Bernie Ebbers deserved 10 or more years in prison, and 50% said that U.S corporations are continuing to lose public trust.

The view of the government's recent moves was mixed. While 78% said they disapprove of recent Small Business Administration budget cutbacks, 53% said the recent revision in federal bankruptcy laws were an improvement for businesses, and 66% said that privatizing Social Security would be a positive step for their employees. Not surprisingly, 65% said they thought federal taxes were too high.

Still, the group took a positive view of American entrepreneurship. A solid 62% said that the U.S. will lead the world in entrepreneurship in 15 years.