A year earlier, no company had been accorded more faith than Enron; by late November, none was trusted less. And so, a gasping gurgle, a desperate SOS: Enron, the emblem of free markets, the champion of deregulation, reached into its depleted treasury and forked over $100,000 to each of the major political parties' campaign war chests. Then, it shuttered its online trading unit - its erstwhile gem. On November 28, Standard & Poor's downgraded Enron to junk-bond level - which triggered provisions in Enron's debt requiring it to immediately repay billions of its obligations. This it could not do. Its stock was seventy cents and falling, and, now, no gatekeepers and no credit remained. Accordingly, in the first week of December, Enron, the archetype of shareholder value, availed itself of the time-honored protection for those who have lost their credit: bankruptcy.