Gates on the Stand

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This week, the $40 billion man, Bill Gates, will testify for the first time before Congress. Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to address Microsoft's allegedly anticompetitive practices, Gates will try to bury the impression that he disdains the "other" Washington and its institutions. To help mask his well-known contempt, Gates, who has complained that committee chairman Orrin Hatch has targeted him, has been rehearsing his testimony in front of a "murder board" of advisers. Gates will also subject himself to a day of glad-handing, pleading the company's case in one-on-one meetings with senators, including majority leader Trent Lott.

Gates will be joined at the witness table by archrival CEOs Jim Barksdale of Netscape and Scott McNealy of Sun. But Gates won't face a stacked deck: He persuaded Hatch to have Microsoft-friendly witnesses balance out the panel. Gates will be escorted to the hearing by Senator Slade Gorton of Washington State, who wants Hatch to be nice to his famous constituent. It's a favor Gorton can return: He's chairman of the subcommittee that controls Interior spending, which affects many of Hatch's Utah constituents.