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McCain wants Ballmer as ambassador to China

'Your government is like Linux'

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Irascible chair-flinging corporate tyrant Steve Ballmer could be in the running for a top government job, it was revealed last week.

Presidential hopeful John McCain, speaking at the D: All Things Digital conference, announced plans to co-opt various tech industry luminaries in the event of reaching the White House. According to the Seattle Times, McCain first mentioned Cisco boss John Chambers and Fred Smith, founder of FedEx, in off-the-cuff remarks.

He then dropped the name of Ballmer as a possible McCain administration member, to the astonishment of the audience. The bad boy of Redmond has long been famous for his colourful management style, arguably more suited to a dyspeptic tugboat captain than a software CEO.

The peppery Microsoft overlord was said to have badly injured his vocal cords during a protracted bout of bellowing as long ago as 1991, and has carried on in a similar vein since then. In 2005, Ballmer was said to have shouted "I'm going to fucking kill Google," and "Eric Schmidt is a pussy," during a ding-dong regarding a supposedly poached employee. In 2000, he reportedly described Linux as communism.

That said, there have been signs that the diplomacy-challenged Redmond kingpin may be mellowing with age. Given a chance to publicly insult Google two months ago, Ballmer failed to reduce any furniture to matchwood; nor did he indulge in any bout of trademark cursing, gibbon impressions, or larynx-busting repeated bellows.

Instead, the new smooth and subtle Steve merely characterised the Google growth strategy as "insane," and suggested that the search giant's renowned campus of select brainboxes was no more than "a random collection of people doing their own thing."

Reportedly, McCain jokingly had Ballmer in mind for the post of ambassador to China, which would give him a chance to compare actual communism with the Penguin-themed OS. Based on the comparatively restrained new Ballmer seen in 2007, there might be only minor diplomatic contretemps as a result.

See the Seattle Times report here. ®

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