A political lobbying firm representing both Microsoft Corporation and George W. Bush, who is currently running for U.S. president, was forced to make a public apology this week when a potential conflict of interest was revealed. It seems that Century Strategies, which is headed by former Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed, had been lobbying influential republicans to contact Bush on behalf of Microsoft. And, as you may have heard, Microsoft was recently found guilty of violation federal antitrust laws under a democratic administration whose vice president is running against Mr. Bush.

"Century Strategies should not have encouraged any citizen to contact \[Mr.\] Bush," the company admitted in a statement on Tuesday. "We should have been more sensitive to possible misperceptions, and it is an error that we regret."

Microsoft came late to the lobbying game, hiring Century Strategies in 1998. And the company isn't apologetic about using a strategy that's quite common in other industries and a popular tool for its competitors. "Our competitors have been lobbying for three to four years against Microsoft and in favor of government intervention, and we cannot just sit on the sidelines in the face of such an aggressive lobbying campaign," a Microsoft spokesperson said.

According to a report in the New York Times that unearthed the company's work, Century Strategies has been working to discredit the government's case against Microsoft. However, the company now says that it will no longer seek to influence anyone to write George W. Bush about Microsoft