The absurd thing is that they're free-riding on an existing layout so that users can skip over the getting-familiar-with-new-interface-stage. As long as the content is different I see no ethical errs in copying the layout like this. In fact I think it can only enhance the user experience. I have done it too, I copied the only menu nav that Google used in my IssueTrackerProduct design as seen in these old screenshots.
But I only think it works if the content is important and not the "brand experience". Now, if I could only find that site that lists web design copycats that I've once seen.