Two long-time fixtures of the American consciousness died today -- 10-time Emmy winner David Brinkley and Academy Award winner Gregory Peck.

Peck, one of the "good guys" of Hollywood, was nominated for five Oscars and made films ranging from To Kill a Mockingbird to The Gunfighter to Roman Holiday.

Brinkley, described by President Bush today as "the elder statesman of broadcast journalism," was known for his wry wit and blunt talk. Like a true Fool, he pulled no punches.

Both will be mourned and celebrated.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

PeopleSoft Tells Off Oracle

PeopleSoft's (Nasdaq: PSFT) board has a message for Larry Ellison and Oracle(Nasdaq: ORCL). To put it politely, Oracle can forget about its all-cash $5.1 billion unsolicited bid for PeopleSoft. The board doesn't want it and suggests that shareholders refuse Oracle's money, as well.

Capping off what has been nearly a week of drama so intense it seems more like a cheesy reality TV show than a proposed business transaction, PeopleSoft's move doesn't mean the matter is over yet. Oracle can keep its $16-a-share offer open until July 7, and can extend the offer beyond that point. It can also up its bid beyond $16 a share, something many see as necessary if Oracle really wants PeopleSoft, given that its shares are currently trading above $17.

Oracle reports fourth-quarter earnings after the market's close today, so expect some choice words from Ellison on PeopleSoft's recent action.

PeopleSoft's chief Craig Conway has had some harsh words himself for Oracle and Ellison recently. He characterized the hostile bid as "atrociously bad behavior from a company with a history of atrociously bad behavior."

He also accused Oracle of wanting to "kill" PeopleSoft, after the database giant admitted that it had no intention of selling PeopleSoft products should its acquisition go through. Oracle plans to integrate PeopleSoft's features into Oracle products, and will allow current PeopleSoft customers to "upgrade" to Oracle.

We also can't overlook the fact that Conway is an Ellison protégé. He was an Oracle marketing executive from 1985-1993. He turned PeopleSoft around beginning in 1999, but his animosity for his former boss has never wavered. This is a man who once called Ellison "sociopathic," after all.

Whatever happens next in this little cat-and-mouse game is anyone's guess. We'll be listening closely, though, to hear which CEO gets in the next jab.

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Bush Supports Generic Drugs

The New York Times (free registration required) reported this morning that President Bush will soon announce a plan for speeding the introduction of generic drugs.

Great news for generic drug companies, bad news for big pharma -- although both sectors are experiencing stock market strength today (probably because of other crosscurrents affecting these stocks).

According to the Times' sources "who have been briefed on the proposals," big pharma will be limited on the number of regulatory delays it can impose on a branded drug that's about to go off patent. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration is slated to receive a $13 million budget increase so that it can put more resources behind generic drug applications.

Importantly, both of these measures will help to maintain an inexpensive and speedy generic drug approval process -- something that's critical to the success of generic drug companies, which can ill afford to invest much time or money into a drug that is destined for razor-thin profit margins.

As has been happening all year, generic drug stocks are outperforming today. Shares of both Mylan Labs(NYSE: MYL) and IVAX Corp.(AMEX: IVX) are up nearly 4%. These higher prices may well be justified. Just as branded-drug companies benefit from the competitive shelter of patent protection, so too now -- if these measures are passed -- will generic drug companies benefit from greater shelter against the legal onslaughts of the branded-drug companies (i.e., big pharma).

To learn more about the generic drug sector, see Jeff Fischer's two recent articles on the sector, Generic Drugs' High Potential and Three Companies to Consider .

Quote of Note

"They will help ensure consumers' access to affordable medicines." -- Kathleen D. Jaeger, president of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, lauding the Senate bill and President Bush's impending proposals to speed the introduction of generic versions of brand-name drugs

Are You Really Insured?

The financial pain of an accident can sometimes be soothed by the knowledge that you have insurance. At least until you file a claim. Then you might suffer the additional frustration of finding out your loss won't be completely covered, even though you've been paying insurance premiums for years.

How can this happen? Here are a few of the reasons:

1. You don't have enough coverage.
Inflation, depreciation, and regular acquisitions can make your current insurance obsolete. Has your current homeowner's insurance policy kept up with the appreciated value of your home? And will it cover the various valuables -- family heirlooms, jewelry, football card collection -- that you have accumulated over the years? Now is the time to find out, not as you sift through the ashes for your prized Lee Roy Selmon rookie card.

2. You don't keep adequate records.
To prove a loss, you have to first prove ownership. A great way to document your possessions is by photographing or videotaping them (but make sure you keep the pictures or tape somewhere other than your house so they don't get destroyed). Also consider saving the receipts for all your major purchases. If you own a business, you absolutely must keep accurate records of your inventory and proof of purchase. Finally, photograph or videotape the damage, using rulers or other markers to record the extent of the loss.

3. You don't follow directions.
Insurance companies have specific ways of dealing with claims. If you don't follow the rules, they might deny your claim. Make sure you do what's required and document as much as possible. Generally, file a claim as soon as possible and don't make any repairs until directed to do so by the insurer.

4. The insurance company is lowballing you.
Despite all the warm and fuzzy slogans about being in "good hands," insurance companies will try to pay as little as possible on a claim. Business is business. Protect yourself by getting outside estimates of the repair costs. You might even consider hiring a public insurance adjuster, who can serve as your advocate and help navigate the claims process. Whatever you do, be persistent.

If you're having significant problems with your insurer, contact your state insurance department. And if worse comes to worst, you can hire an attorney who specializes in putting the screws to insurance companies.

For more on the wacky, wild world of insurance, visit the Fool's Insurance Center.

Discussion Board of the Day: McDonald's

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) just launched its new ad campaign. Can the burgermeister put a smile on for its investors? Will the company survive its Dollar Menu? All this and more -- in the McDonald's discussion board. Only on

Quick Takes

3Com (Nasdaq: COMS) , the network equipment maker and Cisco Systems(Nasdaq: CSCO) rival, is laying off 10% of its workforce. That means about 390 folks will lose their jobs over the next two quarters. Most of the reductions will come from 3Com's Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters. The company is attempting to cut costs and save money at a time when demand for its products is weakening. It warned last month that its fourth-quarter sales will be lower than anticipated.

Federal prosecutors are charging medical device maker Guidant(NYSE: GDT) with 10 felony counts over one of its aneurysm treatment products. Nine of the charges are for "shipping misbranded products" and one charge concerns a former employee's false statements to prosecutors. Guidant pled guilty to all the charges, and will pay $92.4 million to the government.

Ketchup king H.J. Heinz(NYSE: HNZ) reported lower fourth-quarter earnings today. The company netted $102.6 million, or $0.29 a share, vs. the year-ago's $223.5 million, or $0.63 a share. Creating the shortfall were restructuring charges and higher marketing and distribution expenses. Excluding one-time items, Heinz earned $184.8 million, or $0.52 per share. Sales increased 6% to $2.19 billion.

Mortgage rates just keep on dropping. The interest rate on 30-year fixed borrowings declined last week to an average of 5.21%. That's the lowest level since 1971, according to Freddie Mac(NYSE: FRE). If you haven't gotten in on the refinancing boom yet, check out our Home Center for tips and special offers.

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Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Kate Southerland, Dayana Yochim