Oracle and Microsoft: A Dot-com Watergate?

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A quarter century after the disillusionment of Watergate, the voting public famously cares more about portfolios than politics, more about Wall Street — and NASDAQ — than Washington. So it's only fitting that the coolest cloak-and-dagger scandal of the day involves not Republicans and Democrats but Oracle and Microsoft. A comparison:

Watergate: Second-rate burglars working for President Nixon (via Nixon's dirty-tricks man Gordon Liddy) are caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the middle of the night.

Dot-comgate: Second-rate investigators working for Internet king Larry Ellison (via Clinton dirty-tricks man Terry Lenzner) are found to have offered cash for trash to the nighttime cleaning staff at the offices of supporters of Bill Gates. (Bonus: Lenzner was a Watergate investigator.)

Watergate: The burglary was a laughably unnecessary attempt by Nixon to get an edge on 1972's Democratic challenger, George McGovern. Nixon beat McGovern in one of the most lopsided presidential elections in U.S. history.

Dot-comgate: The snooping was a laughably unnecessary attempt by Oracle to get an edge on Microsoft, which Ellison thought was gaining a p.r. advantage in its battle with the Justice Department. Justice beat Microsoft in one of the most lopsided antitrust cases (and p.r. battles) in U.S. history.

Watergate: Nixon tells nation, "I am not a crook."

Dot-comgate: Ellison tells reporters investigation of Microsoft was a "civic duty."

But it seems Ellison, unlike Nixon, has figured out that covering up is futile. "We will ship them our garbage," he said. "We will ship our garbage to Redmond, and they can go through it. We believe in full disclosure." So did Woodward and Bernstein.