Motor Trend Magazine Hits Motor Mouth Limbaugh

by A. Jay Adler on November 24, 2010
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What you can count on conservatives to do, from the low to the lofty, is view every issue through the prism of ideology. Disinterested, to them, means disinclined to be interested, uninterested, only. Actually detaching their interests in one issue from their consideration of another is a constitutional corruption. Thus, whether Rush Limbaugh or George Will, Motor Trend Magazine‘s naming of the new, hybrid Chevy Volt as its 2011 Car of the Year is an affront. It insults their politicized faith that there is no climatological harm to be undone and deters their ambition to extract every last dollar barrel of oil from earth and sea bed. Bellowed Limbaugh,

Folks, of all the cars, no offense, General Motors, please, but of all the cars in the world, the Chevrolet Volt is the Car of the Year? Motor Trend magazine, that’s the end of them. How in the world do they have any credibility? Not one has been sold. The Volt is the Car of the Year.

Motor Trend replied the way more parties should whose job it actually is to engage the issues and political culture of the day – directly and hard, as Joe McCarthy finally was, without pretense of an honest actor on the scene or fear of popularity.

So, Mr. Limbaugh; you didn’t enjoy your drive of our 2011 Car of the Year, the Chevrolet Volt? Assuming you’ve been anywhere near the biggest automotive technological breakthrough since … I don’t know, maybe the self-starter, could you even find your way to the front seat? Or are you happy attacking a car that you’ve never even seen in person?

Motor Trend editor Todd Lassa made the distinctions clear.

[O]ur credibility, Mr. Limbaugh, comes from actually driving and testing the car, and understanding its advanced technology. It comes from driving and testing virtually every new car sold, and from doing this once a year with all the all-new or significantly improved models all at the same time. We test, make judgments and write about things we understand.

In fact, Lassa tutored Limbaugh, and Will, in matters they are supposed to be the ones to understand. Both tried to tie the Volt, of course, to President Obama.

This is another of your distortions, Rush, repeated by the otherwise more level-headed George Will in The Washington Post last Sunday. The $7,500 Obama tax credit is an expansion of President Bush’s hybrid credits from the last decade. The Obama tax credit extends to the new Nissan Leaf, too, but if you or Will slammed that car, I’ve not heard or read it. I’d be surprised if you did, though, as Nissan is building the Leaf in a non-union factory in a right-to-work state represented by two Republican senators. A factory located there because Tennessee offered Nissan big tax credits. Maybe you’re worried that if the $7,500 tax credit works, too many people will buy the Volt, and that could reduce the need for oil drilling tax credits?
….
[GM] unveiled the Chevy Volt concept at the 2007 Detroit auto show. That means GM began working on it before the November 2006 elections, when the Republican Party had majorities in the House and Senate, before President Bush had signed a single veto. Bob Lutz, who famously decreed, “Global Warming is a crock of shit,” introduced the car two years before Bush gave GM its first bailout from TARP pocket change. This was two-and-a-half years before Obama’s Automotive Task Force forced GM into bankruptcy.

Will, for his part, happily linked his column to Politifact declaring that the government share of GM, an “appendage of the government,” according to Will, still stands at 66 percent. Unfortunatley for Will, who has a tendency to be anachronistically ill-dated in his declarations, the Politifact statement is dated April 27, 2010. Will’s column appeared on November 14. Four days later the GM IPO reduced the government’s stake in GM to 36 percent. (That’s because Obama’s a socialist who wants the government to take over the means of production.) Will is very often right when he, ahem, rushes to judgment.

But as Jonathan Chait made clear

[T]he main problem with Will’s critique is that it elides the fundamental premise. There’s an electric car subsidy in order to jump-start the market for electric cars, which can then create efficiencies of scale. All of this is premised on the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But Will, who also sees through the scientific consensus on climate change, sees no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, either. So obviously, from the climate science denier point of view, any expenditure designed to reduce carbon emissions is wasteful. Arguing about which particular anti-climate change intervention passes the cost-benefit analysis when you start from Will’s premises is fairly pointless.

Back to Rush’s judgment, though, Lassa closed by hitting hard, but true, the way Limbaugh needs to be hit.

You’ve made two king’s ransoms by convincing legions of dittoheads to tune into you every day. I wonder, do you ever ride in anything that’s not German or Anglo-Saxon? Do you have any idea how powerful IG Metal is, and of the size of Germany’s social safety net?

….

If you can stop shilling for your favorite political party long enough to go for a drive, you might really enjoy the Chevy Volt. I’m sure GM would be happy to lend you one for the weekend. Just remember: driving and Oxycontin don’t mix.

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