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AT&T fights back at Verizon with, um, Luke Wilson

AT&T, bruised in the courts and on TV in its 3G coverage battle with Verizon, releases a troubling TV spot featuring Luke Wilson and a joke about Verizon beginning with "V."

When you've lost the first round in your case against Verizon's persistent and persuasive mockery, who do you turn to?

Luke Wilson, that's who. After all, he starred in "Legally Blonde" and, well, "Jackass Number Two."

Actually, Wilson is lovable. Truly lovable. Perhaps if he'd dressed down a little and Justin Long had suffered an interminable hiatus hernia, Wilson might have got the part of Mac, the Microsoft Mocker.

Instead, he has the slightly more difficult task of persuading the folks who adored him in "Old School" that AT&T's 3G will serve them well on the 3.10 to Yuma.

The creators didn't give him much of a script, as I suspect they wrote it a couple of lattes and a shot of bourbon before this opus was filmed in what looks like the empty space above Victoria's Secret in Santa Monica, Calif.

Luke is forced to stand before a board and prove that AT&T has the fastest 3G network, lets you talk and surf at the same time, and offers you more apps that feature people making strange noises, half-clothed women, and animals that smile when you touch the screen. (Disclosure: slight exaggeration)

Sadly, it all looks a little analog. Luke looks as if he'd prefer to be surfing, as he really doesn't have the tools to make you believe what he's being paid to say.

His hair looks as if it's been hurriedly greased with Czech lard and his face offers a certain hemorrhoidal mien as it offers a little jape at the end of the spot. Yes, a jape about Verizon beginning with "V" and AT&T not beginning with "V." That rumbling you can hear is the collective guffaw from Verizon Central.

Verizon is hurting AT&T with its clinical, delighted unpleasantness. And I fear that before "Legally Blonde 2: AT&T's Revenge" can possibly be effective, the iPhone carrier needs to dramatize its argument rather better than the gospel according to Luke.