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The $19 billion news concerning Disney and Capital Cities/ABC has the entertainment business agog. It is the largest transaction of its kind - until the next one comes along.

It dawned on me after reading the story that there was more money to be made in mergers than there was in producing a product.I decided to have a go at it myself.

I called up Russell Baker, a giant in the newspaper column business, and asked him if he would consider merging with me.

He said, "Are you talking about a friendly or an unfriendly takeover?"

"I can go either way," I said. "I'll offer you $10 billon for your column."

"You have to be joking," Baker said. "Dave Barry offered me $12 billion and the use of his company plane."

"Barry has all his columns written in China," I protested. "Mine are made in America. If a Barry column doesn't work, you can't take it back."

I could see that Baker was biting. "How do I know you have $10 billion?" he asked.

"I don't have $10 billion," I said. "I have $156 - the rest I'll float in junk bonds. Russ, this is a marriage made in heaven. You're in software, and I'm in hardware.

"We could give Disney-Capital Cities a run for their money. Wall Street will go nuts over this deal."

"What do I do about Dave Barry's offer?"

"Dave doesn't have $12 billion. He's hoping to get it from Rupert Murdoch for writing a book with Newt Gingrich. My offer is hard and fast."

"If I sell, can I still keep my hunting lodge in Wyoming?"

"Of course."

"And my 200-foot yacht on the Hud-son?"

"Russ, we're not going to take any of your perks away from you. All we want is the column and the Australian rights to `Mas-ter-piece Theater.' "

"OK. On one condition - I want our junk bonds to have my grandchildren's pictures on them."