More trouble for Bridgestone/Firestone. Sen. John McCain, combative chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, wants to hear from CEOs' mouths how the Firestone-Ford tire crisis escalated so far, so fast.

The Arizona Republican also wants to know why the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) didn't pick up on the problems until May, when Ford had been replacing tires in other nations for a year or more.

Also sharpening the knives is Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), who chairs the House subcommittee on consumer affairs. He says he'll hold hearings on the matter but no date has been set.

Insiders see rough going in Washington for Bridgestone/Firestone, a Japanese company that does not keep its fences mended with Congress.

Ford, on the other hand, knows how the game is played. In the current election cycle, Ford has given $56,000 to the Republican Party and $303,950 to Republican candidates for federal office. Bridgestone/Firestone hasn't coughed up anything during the current cycle. In the 1995-96 cycle, it gave $35,000 to the Republicans.

The Center for Responsive Politics reported that give GOP members of the Senate Commerce Committee have taken money from Ford this year, led by Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.), who is facing a tough re-election battle. He took $10,000 from Ford, more than any other Senator so far.