In politics, as most know, 10 days can be a lifetime. Imagine, then, what can transpire in 10 years.

Back in the mid-1990s, Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, was a staunch proponent of local rights when it came to telecommunications. Now he has given his blessing to a telecom bill that would nationalize cable franchising. Under the measure, cities and municipalities would be stripped of their oversight of local cable franchises, opponents of the bill say, and the decision-making power would be transferred to the Federal Communications Commission in Washington.