Talk about a company that keeps on giving.Hard to believe, but we at the Five Dumbest Things Research Lab once thought we had exhausted all the Dumbness we could wring from the company that used to be known as WorldCom. Yes, after spending countless hours last year writing about WorldCom's then-CEO Bernie Ebbers -- the miser who cut off employees' coffee and scrapped workers' telephone benefits while borrowing $400 million from the company till -- we really thought the well had run dry. Of course, as on so many other occasions at the lab, we were wrong. First came that whole bankruptcy thing -- not really Dumb, but Sad -- and then that little unpleasantness with the accounting fraud. The fictional $9 billion in profits. The guilty pleas. The transformation of the company into the New and Improved MCI. Which leads us to this past Monday, when both the special investigative committee of WorldCom's board of directors and bankruptcy court examiner Dick Thornburgh issued reports of the size and weight usually reserved for Vogue's fall fashion issue. By now you know the broad outlines of the reports: The two sets of books. The sleepwalking board of trustees. The clueless accountants. But as horrifying as these headline items are, the real devil is in the details. And these reports have plenty of details. Enough, we daresay, to fill up a whole column of Dumb Things.
|Ahoy, Bernie! |
Oh cap'n, my cap'n
1. Whatever Floats Your BoatQuestion: How obsessed was Bernie Ebbers with doing deals? Answer: Obsessed enough, according to the bankruptcy examiner, to name his yacht Aquasitions.
2. The Great Telecom Bully Market
|Bernie as Rummy |
What was that, son?