Mistrust in the Trust
            BY MAUREEN DOWD

          WASHINGTON Finally, Al Gore got wise.
          He has called in America's leading trust-buster.

          He has stopped treating W. as a hapless daddy's boy and started treating him
          as the face of the ruthless Bush family cartel.

          The latest addition to the Gore legal armada is David Boies, the cunning litigator
          who beat Microsoft to a pulp in court and showed it to be a monopoly that
          unfairly stifled the competition.

          Mr. Boies, whose knit ties and Macy's suits belie the fact that he is a killer
          from Wall Street, showed up in Tallahassee yesterday declaring that the
          judge's decision that seemed to be a Gore defeat was really a Gore victory.

          If the Democrats' Perry Mason could turn Bill Gates into a stumbling
          incompetent in a deposition, I shudder to think what he could do with W.

          The New York lawyer (whose firm is also taking on price-fixing in the art
          world cartel of Sotheby's and Christie's) is making the same argument
          about Florida voters that he once made about computer customers: They
          have a right to choose their products freely.

          "The voters have spoken and the votes ought to be counted," Mr. Boies said last night.
          W. campaigned on the issue of restoring trust. But it turns out he meant restoring the Family Trust.

          The Bush monopoly, after all, has operated in the interregnum with the
          same arrogant philosophy as the Microsoft monopoly: You can have all the
          choice you want as long as you choose us.

          When questioned by Mr. Boies about stifling fair competition, Mr. Gates would get petulant.

          W. is just the same. The Bush family's elitist mantra "We were born to
          rule. We know best. Leave it to us." was echoed at Microsoft. Both
          monopolies simply assumed that Americans should want what they were
          selling. Anybody who disagreed shouldn't count or get counted.

          Ever since the vice president refused to withdraw from the marketplace,
          W. has snippily comported himself as president-elect.

          W. keeps acting as though he needs to get busy with a transition, even
          though all he's doing is giving jobs to all the old Bush family retainers and
          tiresome former Bush White House officials who are already sitting around
          the ranch with him.

          How much time and imagination does that take?

          The Bushes are treating Florida as possessively as Microsoft treated the
          rest of the computer industry. Jeb Bush runs the Florida subsidiary of Bush
          Inc. and was supposed to roll over Mr. Gore the way Microsoft rolled over
          rivals in the browser war.

          But once Jeb failed to achieve market dominance in his region, it fell to his
          subordinate, Katherine Harris, Florida's secretary of state, to use her
          "discretion" to muscle out the interlopers. She knows that if she succeeds,
          there might be a big bonus from Bush Inc.: a cushy job as an ambassador
          or perhaps support for a Senate run.

          James Baker's strong-arm tactics are reminiscent of those Microsoft
          executives who acted like thuggish enforcers of their leader's will, warning
          that their company was so important that any kind of assault on them
          would be bound to undermine the stability of the Republic and destroy
          capitalism and impede the march toward high-tech prosperity.

          Mr. Baker held a press conference yesterday morning to warn of dire
          consequences if W. was not immediately installed in the executive suite.
          But just as the Bush Inc. not-so- Velvet Hammer was pompously lecturing
          about international uncertainty and "disturbed" markets, the Nasdaq and
          Dow indexes were sharply rising, running across the bottom of the TV
          screen, mocking his words even as he uttered them.

          Mr. Baker keeps acting as though there's some phantom populace
          impatiently demanding a swift resolution. That's simply not true.

          W., of course, is eager to slide by with the help of family connections, and
          start inaugural partying. But the rest of us are perfectly content to wait for
          the arithmetical truth. (And not Mr. Gore's selective truth either, cleaving
          to Democratic counties.)

          It is not the tie, but the grating behavior of the contenders in the tie, that is
          trying American patience.

          At least there's this to be grateful for: Johnnie Cochran hasn't shown up on
          the Gore legal team. (If the chads don't fit, you must acquit.)
 

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