"Sweet Home Alabama" is not a rockabilly confederate anthem like it's been painted as by popular culture. Instead, it's a melancholic, bittersweet, and yet somewhat hopeful look into the mind of someone who comes from a culture--the Deep South--that's been associated with one of the greatest self-described American wrongs--slavery--next to Nazism in the Pandemonium of American Evils.
The narrator of the song is tongue-and-cheek because, after the scandal of Watergate, which challenged American confidence not only in the government, but in the moral judgement of the masses who put the government there in the first place, most Americans--Northerners, as the narrator might say--were shell-shocked. Not only did they participate in terrible, destructive lie, but they did so happily and of their own free will. The country as a whole now had to reckon with what the more self-aware citizens of the Deep South had been dealing with for almost a century post-Civil War--how do you go on as a person knowing that you willingly complied with all the things in the world you find to be abhorrent and unjust. How can you trust yourself to make the right call when you're all of the sudden told that everything you've stood for is not only wrong, but foul and ultimately dangerous and inhumane.
This is the reason for the line, "Now Watergate does not bother me/does your conscience bother you?" The narrator is nudging his Northern friends and asking them how they're doing knowing they helped build injustice, the very thing their cultural identity is built around preventing.
Lynyrd Skynyrd wasn't a bunch of toothless gray-uniformed hillbillies out of Florida--they were a smart, rough group of guys from a rough part of the country, who represented, in their own way, a potential ideal form for the Southern Man. Caring, compassionate, witty, rough around the edges, and most of all, earnest to look out for those who've had their cultural autonomy taken away by an inherited generational horror. It makes me sad to think that most people will only know them as what MCA made them out to be, not who they really were. If you listen to their songs, there's real compassion and a kind of fraternal feeling to them. I wish I could tell them how much I appreciate them trying to fight against what people thought they were to show them instead what they could be.
"The Ballad of Curtis Loew": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35Ipe_0kadM