The end result is that, regardless of what Linus does, if there is a commit which builds a kernel that claims to be "2.6.x" in his tree, then most of the least stable commits in his tree will also claim to be "2.6.x".
One thing that might work would be for Linus to not put "2.6.x" in his tree, but instead put "2.6.x+1-rc0" in his tree and only put "2.6.x" in the 2.6.x-stable tree. This would have the nice side effect that string compare would start sorting tags within a tree correctly, and it's obviously equivalent to the current situation at a string-equality level within a given tree, but I don't know if Linus would like not having releases ever cut from his tree any more.
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