There is nothing sacred anymore: the U.S. government will exchange up to $25 billion in emergency bailout money it provided Citigroup Inc. for as much as a 36 percent equity stake in the struggling bank.

Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee: it’s not nationalization, it’s just partnership.

We don’t need majority ownership to work with the banks. I don’t see any reason to destroy the franchise value or to create the huge legal uncertainties of trying to formally nationalize a bank when it just isn’t necessary.

Existing shareholders would see their ownership stake shrink, and the bank is eliminating all dividends on common shares. Shareholders didn’t like the terms and C lost 38% in one morning. I guess they wanted government that give away money but not take any stake. And wanted cherry on top. And some whipcream.