Justice Passes the Hat

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Poor Joel Klein. It's less than two days after he spearheaded the Fed-state attack on Microsoft -- the largest antitrust lawsuit of the century -- and the trustbusting assistant attorney general has announced that his cupboard is bare. Apparently a 275-strong legal staff and $95 million in government funding is not enough in these days of monopoly and merger, and Klein requires a budget boost of "certainly several million dollars."

No wonder the last line of the DOJ's lawsuit against Microsoft asks "that the plaintiff recover the costs of this action" -- in other words, that Bill Gates cough up for Klein's legal fees. But the AAG's point is well taken: When billion-dollar corporate lovefests like Travelers Group-Citicorp and Daimler Benz-Chrysler seem to take place every other day, and the responsible watchdog's budget has not been adjusted for inflation since 1993, it's time to pass the hat. Still, as anyone who has tried to navigate www.usdoj.gov/atr knows, the first thing Klein needs is a new webmaster. Perhaps Redmond could help?