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Optical/IP

A No-Brainer

6:00 PM -- Along with the revelations that Donald Rumsfeld claims we have a plan for victory in Iraq (oh really?) and that Barry Bonds took steroids for years (you think?), we now get the news that Robert McDowell, the Bush administration's pick for the fifth member of the FCC, will not let his 16 years as a telecom lobbyist influence any votes he might cast as a commissioner.

Surely you jest.

As Washington charades go, McDowell's testimony before the Senate was small beans, but a charade it certainly was. McDowell is assistant general counsel at Incompas , the D.C. association that represents regional telephone companies and which has consistently lobbied against the reconsolidation of the telecommunications industry.

"I will prejudge nothing and I'd ask my ability to be partial not be prejudged," McDowell told the apparently straight-faced senators at the hearing.

McDowell's upcoming decisions about the $67 billion merger of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS) should be, shall we say, interesting. It's unlikely that a Republican-majority FCC will attempt to block the deal. But McDowell's years of fighting for the little guys may have left him with some residual principles.

You gotta be kidding.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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