Company execs give comic takes on U.S. election at Comdex

The delayed result in the U.S. presidential election provided the heads of Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. with some comic material for their keynote addresses and press conferences at the Comdex trade show held in Las Vegas.

As his audience laughed, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates in his Sunday evening keynote described the delay as “not the best use of technology.” Gates said the problems with the punch card ballots in Florida reminded him of the days when punch cards were the entry medium for early computers, a remark that drew groans and chuckles from those of his listeners who remember those days.

Although he described himself in a Monday evening press conference as tending “not to be political,” Oracle chairman and CEO Larry Ellison did own up to whom he’d like to see in the White House. The only trouble is, his choice isn’t on the ballot, the forgotten current U.S. president, in office until January next year.

“I hope they can amend the (U.S.) constitution to let Bill Clinton run again” for four or eight years, Ellison said. Failing that, he’d support the ascendancy of Maggie, one of his three cats since “she’s completely honest,” he added.

“I’m very fond of Bill Clinton personally … the world’s going to miss him,” Ellison said. “He’s gifted, bright, charming and charismatic.” He added that Clinton wasn’t perfect but that the U.S. president is “tackling the toughest job on earth.”

Referring to unexpectedly poor fourth-quarter financial results, HP Chairman, CEO and president Carly Fiorina in her keynote address also turned to the U.S. presidential impasse for light relief, quipping “‘Don’t we get a recount too?”

A year ago at Comdex, Microsoft and its court battle with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) formed the main comic butt for the keynote speakers. Gates himself kicked off a series of jokes opening his speech with the quip – “Anyone here hear any good lawyer jokes lately?” Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy carried on the joke asking his keynote audience – “Anyone heard any good monopolist jokes lately?”

Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., can be reached at Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif., can be reached at HP, in Palo Alto, Calif., can be reached at