Living in Bizarro World: The Tire Gauge Fiasco

 I hope I’m not speaking wildly out of place when I say that most of us have become somewhat inured to a certain level of absurdity in the political discourse that takes place during peak political campaign season. But I’ll confess that there are still times when I find myself white-knuckled and double sighted with rage. A case in point:

How out of touch is Barack Obama? He’s so out of touch that he suggested that if all Americans inflated their tires properly and took their cars for regular tune-ups, they could save as much oil as new offshore drilling would produce. Gleeful Republicans have made this their daily talking point; Rush Limbaugh is having a field day; and the Republican National Committee is sending tire gauges labeled "Barack Obama’s Energy Plan" to Washington reporters.

So why would this get my goat so much? Well, for one thing, Obama is completely right. In fact, he was being quite conservative. Bush Administration estimates claim that offshore drilling could increase oil production by 1% in the next 20 years. By itself, if everyone kept their tires properly inflated, that would reduce gas consumption by 3% right now. Add in other relatively easy and cheap efficiency measures from the Alliance to Save Energy, and we could collectively reduce our consumption ten-fold.

Now, I’m not here to advocate for Obama. The truth is that both candidates have major, major issues with their energy platforms. But can’t we just have a shred of seriousness when it comes to issues that, you know, are actually deadly serious?


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