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"Wal-Mart Funds Bush Campaign, Costco Prefers Kerry"

Bloomberg.com reports: Executives at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp., competitors in the $76 billion U.S. warehouse-club market, have taken their rivalry to a new level: national politics.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer and owner of Sam's Club warehouse stores, gives more money to Republican candidates than any other company. Its top three managers, including Chief Executive Officer H. Lee Scott, donated the individual maximum $2,000 to President George W. Bush, and Jay Allen, vice president for corporate affairs, raised at least $100,000 to re-elect the president, earning him the Bush campaign's designation of ``Pioneer.''

Wal-Mart -- two-thirds of whose 3,580 stores are in the ``red states'' that voted for Bush in 2000 -- is backing White House policies on everything from trade to limiting overtime pay.

Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, 68, is a Democrat who says Bush's $1.7 trillion in tax cuts unfairly benefit the wealthy. He opposed the Iraq war and supports Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts for president. And he's the only chief executive of a company in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to donate money to independent political groups formed to oust Bush, Internal Revenue Service records show. -- Wal-Mart Funds Bush Campaign, Costco Prefers Kerry (Bloomberg.com)