"Admittedly, the public should be up in arms that Verizon and AT&T appear to have no interest in challenging these broad collections of data"
I imagine when this was first offered to the telco's it went something like this.
Gov: We want your cooperation spying on the world.
Tel: Isn't that unconstitutional?
Gov: Someone needs standing to make a claim. We promise not to charge you.
Gov: Well you could be heroic and defend Americans rights. You'll be up against secret laws in secret courts. The smallest point you win will of course remain secret. The hundreds of millions of cost well your shareholders will understand. Or you can let us do what we going to do anyway and we'll lavish billions on you.
Tel: No heroes here. Throw in immunity and you have a deal.
It's early '08 Senator Obama is in his office. A man steps in.
Senator Obama: "What the! Where's my sec-"
Stranger: "She'll be fine. Your making a bit of hay with this NSA stuff. It might play well with your friends. Do you think that will get you any traction? We've been watching you. We think you have potential."
Senator Obama: "Who's we"
Stranger: "You know. You want to be President. Do you think your enemies won't find out?
Senator Obama: "What?"
Stranger: "You climbed through Chicago politics, you think the muck washed away? No one else needs to know. We've been shaping politics for a while now. You can't make it without our help."
Senator Obama: "What do you want in return?"
Stranger: "Loyalty. We protect our friends and expect the same in return."