It does not sound fair for a site to have PR just because they set out to achieve high PR -but, I'm having difficulty agreeing with you on this.
Money speaks. If I have enough for a lobby group and to wine and dine politicians I can maybe make it illegal for anyone to sell hot dogs in Manchester. If money spent on acquiring PR was used for PPC it will possibly achieve the same result i.e. getting traffic to the said site. So, given that PR can be bought, and can result in more traffic, should not the sites with money spend some of it to acquire PR? So where does "misinterpretation" come in? If a site has high PR it is "important". Are you unhappy with Google for allowing sites to "buy" importance... or with the sites for using this route to "importance" rather than PPC?