Pity the poor telecom executive who has to try to sell the riotously unpopular idea of two-tiered Internet service: Those companies that pay extra get top-shelf transport, while those who can't or won't get plain old best effort, no matter how pokey that may prove to be. It's not an easy sell and the carriers are getting hammered from all corners (for just two examples from this publication, try John Gallant's Vortex blog and Scott Bradner's 'Net Insider). Nevertheless, AT&T boss Ed Whitacre was out there taking another swing yesterday.\u201cWe have to figure out who pays for this bigger and bigger IP network,\u201d said Whitacre in an interview with the Financial Times. \u201cWe have to show a return on our investments.\u201dYes they do \u2026 and fair enough.But then Whitacre veers into what can charitably be called fuzzy logic:\u201cI think the content providers should be paying for the use of the network \u2013 obviously not the piece from the customer to the network, which has already been paid for by the customer in Internet access fees \u2013 but for accessing the so-called Internet cloud,\u201d he said.Content providers will be surprised to learn that in Whitacre's world they have been getting a free ride to the cloud. But the far more puzzling aspect of that pitch concerns us little ol' consumers. Who knew that our Internet access fees were covering only the piece of pipe from our homes to the ISP? Could have sworn we've been buying round-trip tickets, but maybe I didn't read the fine print.