August 4, 2008

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Steve Benen has already covered how the right has picked up their new symbol to mock Barack Obama's energy policy, as if the entirety of Obama's program is to have people keep their tires inflated. Jon Perr points out this isn't a new tactic for them. However, Keith Olbermann goes further, and points out that this strategy (at least amongst the critical thinking in the electorate) may backfire when this advice has been endorsed by GOP Veep shortlister Charlie Crist, California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, NASCAR and even President Bush's Highway Traffic Safety Department, none of whom could credibly be called in Obama's corner.

Anti-science as the GOP likes to be, I'm sure these facts will go right over their heads:

The study indicates that substantial benefits would accrue if car care facilities systematically offered complimentary tire pressure checks with oil changes including: (i) increased safety by decreasing all crashes and saving more than 100 lives per year, (ii) reduced petroleum consumption by over a billion gallons/year, which would (iia) provide over $4 billion in economic savings for US consumers that could in part be recouped in retail/auto-care facilities, (iib) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13.5 million tons and automobile pollution and (iic) enhance national security.

As Obama says, "it's like these guys take pride in being ignorant."

Oh, snap!

Full transcripts below the fold

OLBERMANN: The Republican presidential candidate has devoted his nightly embittered mocking quota to ridiculing a gas-savings suggestion advocated by his Democratic rival, a gas-saving suggestion advocated five weeks ago by a governor John McCain is considering as his running mate, a gas-saving suggestion advocated two years ago by those liberal lunatics at NASCAR, the stock car racing circuit, a gas saving suggestion which President Bush‘s own highway department suggests could save more barrels of oil in one year than new offshore drilling could produce in four.

Keep your engine tuned and your tires properly inflated. This as Senator Obama is declaring in Michigan today that we must end the age of oil in our time. In a new ad, the Obama campaign stating that four more years of an administration tied to big oil would be the wrong choice.


NARRATOR: Every time you fill your tank, the oil companies fill their pockets. Now big oil is filling John McCain‘s campaign with $2 million in contributions because instead of taxing their windfall profits to help drivers, McCain wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. After one president in the pocket of big oil, we can‘t afford another.

Barack Obama-a windfall profits tax on big oil to give families $1,000 rebate. A president who‘ll stand up for you.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m Barack Obama and I approve this message.


OLBERMANN: The McCain campaign responding, quote, "Barack Obama‘s latest negative attack ad shows his celebrity is matched only by his hypocrisy."

Back in Michigan, the presumptive Democratic nominee is pointing out an end to the age of oil in our time will not be accomplished through offshore drilling.


OBAMA: We can‘t simply pretend as Senator McCain does, that we can drill our way out of this problem. We need a much bolder and much bigger set of solutions. We have to make a serious, nationwide commitment to developing new sources of energy, and we have to do it right away-right now.


OBAMA: We cannot wait.


OLBERMANN: The rebuttal move from the McCain campaign today, handing out tire gauges to the traveling media corps which read, "Obama‘s energy plan, a stunt meant to mock the Obama suggestion last week that Americans improve their gas mileage by keeping all tires properly fully-inflated," as if that were the only part of Obama‘s energy plan.

Cue, Senator McCain in Pennsylvania today.


MCCAIN: Unfortunately, Senator Obama continues to oppose offshore drilling. He continues to oppose the use of nuclear power. These misguided policies would result in higher energy costs to American families and businesses and increased dependence on foreign oil. We‘re not going to achieve energy independence by inflating our tires.


OLBERMANN: Please stop yelling at me, sir.

The McCain campaign is also e-mailing a fundraising pitch offering the tire gauges for a low, low $25 donation. They are available at for 89 cents.

Problem number one, checking tire pressure is not the only aspect to Obama‘s energy plan which also includes in no particular order, dipping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, putting at least 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015, and a major commitment to helping the auto industry build new factories or renovate existing ones to retool for the production of those new generation vehicles.

Problem number two, Obama is not the only one to have advised Americans that properly maintained tires increase fuel efficiency. California Governor Schwarzenegger-and let‘s see McCain try to mock him about this-having said in June in a joint appearance with Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist who campaigned with McCain last Friday, that average citizens should keep engines tuned and tires properly inflated as well as driving slower, buying hybrids, and lowering overall consumption.

Governor Schwarzenegger having added that at the end of June, quote, "energy prices are not going back to the good old days."

Now, who else believes that tire pressure affects the fuel efficiency of the car? NASCAR does. It has advice on its website for two years and counting, that tires be checked "at least once a month and before every road trip," quoting further, "With escalating fuel prices the time is now for drivers to focus on simple things like proper tire pressure to maximize tire performance and increased fuel economy.

Perhaps Cindy McCain might have picked that up when she toured a garage at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania and got into a NASCAR racer with the president of NASCAR over the weekend.

The Bush administration is also promoting proper tire inflation as a way to save money and cut gasoline use. Quoting from Department of Energy guidelines, "Keep tires properly inflated and aligned to improve your gasoline mileage by around 3.3 percent."

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