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Professor Buffett's Dark Side

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Warren Buffett has risen to fame for his ability to pick out undervalued companies with promising upside and bank on their success. Another big part of his appeal is his down-home, common-man image, but that image was tarnished this week when Buffett testified in Congress.

Rather than living a lavish life of excess, the octogenarian is famous for enjoying the simple things: Cherry Coke, his ukulele, a conservative home in Nebraska, and the game of bridge. Buffett has been seen as a proponent of America, investing in all-American companies like Coca Cola (KO) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). At the end of 2009, the investor even bought up Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, saying that he saw it as an all in bet on the future strength of the U.S. economy.

With all of his attractive qualities, it is easy to overlook some of his business decisions which are not as well received by the public. In recent months a number of these moves have placed him on the front pages of many top newspapers as well as in front of Washington officials.

This week, after being served with a subpoena, Warren Buffett appeared in front of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) as a witness to testify about the rating agency industry's role leading up to the financial crisis.

Many have pointed to the actions taken by Moody's (MCO), Fitch Ratings, and Standard and Poor's (owned by McGraw-Hill (MHP)) as major factors contributing to the housing market's meltdown.

Although the position has been trimmed considerably on numerous occasions over the past year, Berkshire Hathaway has been a major MCO shareholder since 2000, at one time owning as much as 20% of the firm.

At the hearing, Buffett was critical of Moody's, explaining that, in hindsight, the firm should have recognized the events leading up to the crisis. However, he also appeared supportive of the firm, saying no one that he knew of had been able to see it coming, either. Buffett also stood up for the firm's CEO, saying that he should not be singled out for blame.

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