Hi guys - i wanted to post a followup that thanks to some serious digging into old threads i just stumbled upon the resolution to this problem - and right as i was giving up too
solution: turn off wifi when you set up your exchange account.
i have no idea why this fixes it but it does.
Setting up Gmail as an exchange address
turn wifi radio off
menu > more > new account
microsoft exchange activesync
email address: email@example.com
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
server address: m.google.com
check this server requires an encrypted ssl connection
sync what you want, when you want, click next