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AOL Time Warner COO Robert Pittman got the push yesterday, making room at the top for a virtual management takeover by Time Warner veterans, among whom Chairman Steve Case will essentially be a token AOLer.

Since the $165 billion merger was consummated in early 2001, the media behemoth's stock has plumeted steadily from $50 a share to a humiliating low of twelve dollars and change today. The preposterously overvalued AOL shares for which Time Warner sold its soul during the bad old days of the dotcom hustle have, predictably, kicked the conglomerate to the curb.

Indeed, AOL had been deteriorating badly before the merger according to recent reports, but some magic Enronesque bookkeeping by Pittman and company assisted AOL in faking ad revenues and pulling off one of the most monumental cons in the rich history of dotcom fraud.

Had Time Warner waited six months they might have bought AOL rather than be bought. Now they're going to take over the remains of a grossly deflated and dessicated faux media empire in hopes of reviving it, or at least stopping its continuous implosion. And they may succeed, so long as the cultural differences don't undermine them, and so long as Dubya's new corporate-fraud "swat team" cuts them some slack over the accounting irregularities.

Let's hope for the sake of their shareholders and employees that they contributed lavishly to Junior's political campaign. ®

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