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Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Aug. 21

Lockheed's Empty Lobby

Now that the F-22 fighter jet has been shot down in Congress, Lockheed Martin (LMT) should lobby for its lobbying money back.

The Bethesda, Md-based defense contractor spent $3.3 million in the second quarter lobbying on tactical aircraft and other defense systems, according to a recent filing. In addition to Congress, Lockheed lobbied the departments of Defense, State, Commerce and Homeland Security, NASA, and the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

Boy, the price of peddling influence sure has skyrocketed. Not like the good old days when a nice bottle of wine and some show tickets would get you an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The company did not name specific weapon systems it lobbied for during the three-month period, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the F-22 topped their list. Earlier this year, Lockheed was trapped in a dogfight between the Pentagon and lawmakers in states with jobs at stake that wanted additional funding to buy more Cold War-era fighter jets.

Even as Lockheed's agents wined and dined every elected official in the 202 area code to save the F-22, Defense Secretary Robert Gates already had it locked in his sights a la Tom Cruise in Top Gun. In April, Gates said the jet "does not make much sense anyplace else in the spectrum of conflict."

Ultimately, the Democratic-controlled Congress killed plans to buy more of the Lockheed fighter jets after a White House veto threat. The victory was a big one for President Obama, who did his own lobbying to secure the necessary votes by sending Vice President Joe Biden into the fray.

Now that's one loose cannon that even Lockheed's millions can't match.

Dumb-o-meter score: 75 -- Note to Gates: You should know by now that conflicts on Capitol Hill rarely make sense.

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