The loud fight for control of El Paso ( EP) has notched up a few more decibels. With less than three weeks left to plead for votes, El Paso incumbents and dissidents alike have cranked up the volume in their campaigns for control of the company's board. By now, both sides have formally solicited votes from shareholders and have followed up by presenting their cases before Institutional Shareholder Services, the largest proxy advising firm in the nation. The firm's final recommendation, which could tilt the balance in either direction, is expected sometime next week. But neither side is quietly waiting for that decision. Rather, both parties have gone on to personally argue their cases before big shareholders -- who own roughly one-third of El Paso's stock -- in rare, back-to-back presentations hosted by the AFL-CIO this week in the nation's capital. While the two sides did not actually debate, they have been engaged in a virtual shouting match for months by now. That argument, fought primarily through letters to shareholders and press releases, has grown increasingly testy in recent days. During the past week, each side has rushed anew to tout its own strengths and rip at the other's weaknesses through familiar reminders and a sprinkling of interesting new disclosures. The incumbents continue to point out their recent successes, including liquidity improvements and a key settlement with California, while stepping up their criticism of a dissident group led by former El Paso director Selim Zilkha and supported by vocal shareholder Oscar Wyatt. Meanwhile, the dissidents keep pounding on El Paso's "inexcusably poor" performance -- contrasting the company's low share price with its rich executive pay -- as they try to flesh out a turnaround plan that's still criticized as too vague. And in the background, the clock continues to tick away the days before the final showdown -- scheduled for June 17 in Houston -- when the season's last big proxy fight will finally conclude.