I’m lying on a bed in a hotel room in Frankfort, KY – my brother Sean and I have ventured to the Bourbon Trail to help my buddy Jon fix his kitchen so he can rent his duplex at exorbitant rates. But having just driven 11 hours, I have to ask:
Why the fuck are we even considering bailing out the Big Three automakers in this country? I mean, I get it: 10% of America’s workforce is somehow related to cars, and if these companies go under, the suffering will be immense. But us writing a blank check to Ford, GM and Chrysler is like driving an abused wife back to her husband. These are the BAD GUYS, plain and simple. They fought seat belts, they fought safe gas tanks, they fought airbags, and they fought decent gas mileage FOR FORTY YEARS. If it were up to them, they’d have your kids ride shotgun in piles of shattered vodka bottles.
There may have been a day when someone loved the clean stylin’ of their Buick, the fins of their Fairlane, or even the no-nonsense subtlety of their K-car, but those days are gone, baby, gone. Americans have made two kinds of cars for years:
1. boring, shitty, uninspiring, unsafe, mid-level sedans with shitty gas mileage, or
2. hideous, ostentatious, rollover-prone, SUV Fuck-You-Mobiles with mind-bendingly shitty gas mileage.
By 1999 or so, the writing was on the wall: global warming was real, gas prices were going to go stratospheric, and soon enough, the SUV craze would be exposed for what it really was. All three automakers had YEARS to get an electric drive train going, but didn’t fucking bother. In the meantime, Toyota was staying up late perfecting their game. I’m no Nostradamus, but I did the math in 2002 and the next year, Tessa and I bought the the new generation Prius, the second Prius ever sold in New York.
We would have been glad to buy American, but Detroit was so far behind the game that Ford gave up and had to use the Toyota hybrid engine inside the new Escape. The Big Three squandered a decade of innovation during the Dark Ages soon to be known as the Bush II Era, instead calling hybrids “a bad idea” and pushing Yukons and Escalades on a public eager to buy their way out of post-9/11 fear.
And NOW they come crying to Washington like three obese babies suddenly denied their ice cream? Our new, enlightened government should either tell them to go fuck themselves, or we should give them some money WITH THE IRON-BOUND STIPULATION that they re-work their plants and their plans around a new energy structure, a green-based technology that’ll put us back on top of the world and kickstart a million new jobs.
Because if we give them $100 billion, and the limit of their innovation extends to twenty-seven cup holders and 5 miles per gallon, we really should leave cars alone and stick to our strong points: reality television, bad chocolate and gun-related homicide.