An Open Letter to Tom Gardner, Fool
The Week in Review -- December 4, 1998
by Jerry Thomas (

Tom Gardner
c/o The Motley Fool
123 North Pitt Street, Fourth Floor
Alexandria, VA 22314

Dear Tom,

What were you thinking? $150?! Tom, bubeleh -- you don't need to throw that kind of money around. Not for a favor. I would have done the job for nothing. Free. Gratis. Bupkis, Tom. When you get into these jams, don't think with your wallet. Think with your heart. Think of old Cheezerino. I'm here for you, bud. And I mean that. Really.

You know what? Sometimes, I don't know why all of Wall Street doesn't just crawl into a hole and die of embarrassment. Why on earth does this industry even exist? After reading this week's series of Cash-King Portfolio (soon to be the Rule Maker Portfolio) reports with an Eyes on the Wise theme, you'd think the whole sorry shebang would collapse out of sheer guilt. But I turned on CNBC this morning and it was all still there, with its hucksters and snake oil predators. Sure, its important to have guys out there who know how to tell a good business when they see one, but when the game is rigged against their clients, when these bean counters get paid not by how well they serve the client -- not even by how accurate their reports are -- but by how well they keep the wheels greased... I mean, what's wrong with this picture?

Look at me -- I'm preaching to the choir.

Take a gander at Wednesday's report. A thing of beauty, Tom. This is choice stuff. Tom Kurlak from Merrill Lynch, right? Okay, he blew the call on Intel -- and then some. No problem -- we all make mistakes. But should his mistakes be making his company money? Buying the mahogany paneling in those ritzy Manhattan towers? Like you said, Tom, call 'em what they are -- not research analysts, but sales analysts. Exactly.

But then there's Tuesday's Cash-King report stabbing me in the heart. Mario Gabelli, grand master of Gabelli Asset Management, ripe for the picking, leaving his customers lighter in the pocket than they woulda been had they just got a little Foolish, with, I dunno -- you said it, one of those index funderoonies. And there's Mario -- charging these poor hard-working joes for the privilege of underperformance. But then, Tom -- Tom! -- even at your moment of triumph, even as you engineer one of those diamond-precious moments that only a Fool -- a true Fool! -- can create, you let me down. A hundred and fifty dollars, Tom. A hundred and fifty bucks that coulda gone to Share Our Strength. Tom, I woulda been there for you. I woulda backed you up on this. You disappoint me.

Okay, okay, don't look so glum. You're forgiven. I'm cutting you some slack, because in Thursday's and Friday's reports, you make up for it all. These full-service brokers, what are they doing? The whole game is rigged, rigged to line Wise pockets, pockets in fancy slacks, slacks that match $2000 jackets. Somewhere, somehow you found a Wall Street insider who knows how the game is really played. The cold-calling boiler rooms, the sales pitches, the fat commissions. Real hidden camera nitty gritty stuff, Tom. Beautiful.

Tell me, Tom -- I know you got a sibling rivalry thing going with brother David. Really, it's okay. His portfolio, the whaddyacallit -- the Fool Portfolio (soon to be the Rule Breaker Portfolio), is smoking, and just announced another purchase this week. But you know what? I don't care. Because even with the dance of the triple-digit return, this week you got the big kid beat. Because even if every Fool portfolio there is goes to zero, there's still a message to get out to the people. And every investor in America should read those Cash-King reports this week.

You can believe me on that one, Tom. Remember, this is The Cheeze talking to you. I'm here to back you up. And I mean that. Really.

Fool on, Tom.

Your pal,


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