Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Joe Conason on Bush's plan to ban the internal combustion engine (hey, that's what they accused Gore of wanting to do):
So someone should ask Bush if he remembers who wrote this: "We have a partnership with the American auto industry…to develop cars that achieve three times today's mileage with the same pricing, comfort and safety; the companies and research scientists are making remarkable progress toward revolutionary change in the design and development of fuel cell vehicles. "I was criticized for suggesting…that we should move away from the internal combustion engine over the next quarter-century. The attack was never more than smoke-and-fumes; I was calling not for an end to the car industry but for new types of cars." That's Al "Ozone Man" Gore, in the revised foreword to the 2000 reissue of his 1992 book, "Earth in the Balance." Back then the Republican Party apparatchiks and all the conservative pundits ridiculed Gore's kooky ideas about replacing the internal combustion engine (See the Daily Howler for copious details.). The moronic Jim Nicholson, then chairman of the Republican National Committee, used to stand at the fax machine all day, sending out messages that attacked Gore for wanting to do away with the internal "combustible" engine, which were duly repeated by all the right-wing hacks. They used Gore's farsighted ideas against him in places like Michigan and Tennesseee, where lots of cars are built. Now they will all tell you that Bush is simply brilliant for supporting this visionary technology. Do the math, as my friend Jack Gillis did, and it turns out that Gore's notion of replacing the internal combustion within 25 years, as he suggested in 1992, is within a year of the date now proposed by Bush for the same goal.
I happened to have received the same email from Jack Gillis that inspired Joe's column. Here's the relevent part (re-printed with permission):
Hyrdogen. Great stuff. Quote from Bush's speech: "A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free." Let's do some math. In 1992, Al Gore published a book in which he predicted the replacement of the internal combustion engine in 25 years (probably by a hydrogen engine), for which comment he was cruelly, deceptively and dishonestly excorciated by the GOP. 1992 + 25 = 2017. Last night, Bush said substantially the same thing except he said "the first car driven by a child born today." If Learner's Permits are granted at 15 1/2 (as in most states, I think), 2003 + 15 = 2018. So, according to the GOP logic, calling for hydrogen cars by the year 2017 is "Banning cars!" "Destroying freedom!" "Absolutely flaky!" but calling for hydrogen cars by 2018 is "Visonary!" "Brilliant!" "Bold!"

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