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Microsoft to Put $65 Million into .NETworth Initiative to Create Other Plausible Reasons

London, England ( — According to the annual rich list compiled by The Sunday Times of London, Wal-Mart Chairman S. Robson Walton has ousted Microsoft's Bill Gates as the world's wealthiest person, a surprising development that has left the predacious software mogul scrambling to find another excuse for being a jerk.

Bill Gates

"When you're the richest man in the world, people pretty much expect you to be an arrogant bastard," said Sunday Times editor Liam Knell. "I'm afraid his dethronement puts him in a rather awkward position."

In a statement Tuesday, Microsoft acknowledged its founder's predicament, and pledged to pursue other possible grounds for Gates' character as part of what it calls its .NETworth initiative.

"Mr. Gates wishes to thank those who have been willing to attribute his personality and megalomaniacal tendencies to the corruptive nature of unsurpassed wealth, and promises to commit significant resources to find alternative excuses for his behavior," said Microsoft spokesperson Helen Epologiste.

Analysts, however, don't believe Microsoft's quest will be that easy. Gates, who had topped the rich list the previous three years, fell to second as his net worth tumbled from $76 billion to $54 billion, while Walton's hit $65 billion. The difficulty now lies in finding another socially acceptable excuse for being so blatantly egotistical.

"He's not a two-bit Third World dictator, he's not a Hollywood studio executive, and he's not Anne Robinson," said Morgan Stanley technology analyst Brewster Levy. "Frankly, I think .NETworth is doomed to fail."

That statement clearly rankled Microsoft's Epologiste. "While we are confident our .NETworth initiative will be successful, we would remind people that Mr. Gates still has 54 billion good reasons for being a son of a bitch."

Microsoft's harshest critics, meanwhile, wasted no time blasting the company for "pretending" the chairman cares about whether he needs an excuse. "This .NETworth thing is nothing more than a public relations ploy," said Larry Ellison, CEO of rival Oracle Corp. "Bill Gates knows as well as I do that it's perfectly all right to be a vainglorious prick even if you're No. 3 on the list."

As proof, Ellison pointed out that he is No. 3 on the list.


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