Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican, was a driving force behind the passage of the Medicare Act of 2003, which critics said was a giveaway of billions a year to the pharmaceuticals industry. So even cherry flavoring couldn't cover the ugly taste of negotiations between the PhRMA industry group and Tauzin even as President George W. Bush signed the bill, and a couple of years later he was made president of the lobbying group.

Tauzin's legislation was reputed to be worth $1.2 trillion to the pharmaceuticals industry, and the Comcast-NBC Universal merger was only a $30 billion deal. Attwell Baker, then, has set a new standard only in speed and brazenness.

"No wonder the public is so nauseated by business as usual in Washington -- where the complete capture of government by industry barely raises any eyebrows," said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, a nonprofit media reform group. "We hope -- but won't hold our breath -- that her replacement will be someone who is not just greasing the way for their next industry job."

Michael Powell, former chairman of the FCC, was quick to offer praise, though, in a statement released Wednesday with alarming promptness. "Meredith has been a great friend for many years and an outstanding public servant, as she has served with honor and integrity," said Powell, who after his time with the FCC became president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, an industry lobbyist.

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