Obama “Inflate Tires” Story A Study In Arrogance, Biased Media Coverage

Rush Limbaugh pointed this out:

RUSH: The Obama camp continues to push the tire gauge.  I mean, this is incredible.  They continue to push this tire gauge thing as an energy plan.  They claim to have found proof somewhere that properly inflating your tires, if we all did it, would save something like 50,000 gallons or barrels a day or some such thing.  It’s just absurd.  The Drive-Bys continue to circle the wagons around Obama’s tire gauge thing, and then McCain continues to make fun of it…

RUSH: We have a montage of the Drive-By Media circling the wagons on this.

TAPPER:  If engines were tuned up and tires fully inflated, it could save 800,000 new barrels a day.

FOREMAN:  Would it produce the savings Obama is citing: three or four percent in overall oil consumption?  The answer is…yes!

CRAWFORD:  Truth is properly inflating your tires, uh, will do more for, uh, saving money on gas than anything the politicians are going to do right now!

MADISON:  Everybody and their grandmother knows you inflate tires!

At one point, in discussing this last week, Limbaugh said, “You’d think you would have to stop every few miles and siphon out some gas to make room in your tank for all the fuel you were saving.”

Whether we’re talking about the surge or the tire pressure, Obama simply doesn’t seem to have the ability to recognize when he’s wrong.

You get the idea that if Barack Obama were to say that we could stop global warming if we all took our clothes off and ran around naked praying to Beelzebub the media would come running to say, “Brilliant!!!  He’s right!”

The Reuters story, “FACTBOX: Government backs Obama call to inflate tires,” is a classic example of left-wing media disinformation, opening with the statement:

(Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate John McCain has criticized his Democratic challenger, Barack Obama, for advising people to make sure their car tires are properly inflated to help reduce gasoline use.

No.  Wrong.  McCain has criticized Obama for claiming that inflating tires can compensate for not drilling.  They are deliberately misrepresenting the McCain position in order to benefit Obama.  Reuters is willfully engaging in journalistic fraud.

This is what Obama said:

“There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy,” Obama said. “Making sure your tires are properly inflated – simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling – if everybody was just inflating their tires? And getting regular tune-ups? You’d actually save just as much!”

The media is fixating on the claim that, “Obama is correct that properly inflating our tires would save fuel” and ignoring the fact that he is factually incorrect on a massive scale in claiming that the resulting savings in fuel would obviate the need to increase our domestic supply of oil.

Anne Mathias, an economist with the Stanford Group, said on Good Morning America:

MATHIAS: Unless everybody in the country is driving, you know, a 1969 Chevy Impala or something like that with the tires at half inflation, you’re not going to realize as much savings as he’s talking about.

But that’s not the overwhelming media narrative, is it?

Jake Tapper of ABC had the following analysis on his blog.  Maybe he should have read it before he allowed himself to be represented by his network as supporting Barack Obama’s claim:

Obviously, Obama wasn’t arguing that inflating tires would reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil — but he was saying such a move would save as much energy as drilling for oil in the continental shelf would provide.

Is that true?

If it does save gas, and it is a common problem, well, then what would the total savings be if we all were a bit more diligent about checking the pressure very morning?

Frank Verrastro, Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says that it’s complicated, of course.

“The ‘x’ factors here are the fact that Sen. Obama used both tire inflation and tune ups in his remarks, and no one knows what volume you could/would get from additional drilling in the outer continental shelf,” Verrastro says.

As of now, all we have for the OCS are resource estimates, but no production.

Using the website FuelEconomy.gov, Verrastro writes, we can estimate that “the maximum (estimated) fuel economy (i.e., mileage) savings drivers could expect as a result of keeping their engines properly tuned (4%), replacing air filters (up to 10%), properly inflating tires (up to 3%) and using the correct motor oil (1-2%) is 18-19%.  Since American drivers use roughly 380 million gallons of gasoline (not including diesel) per day, an 18% improvement translates into a savings of 68 million gallons, or 1.62 million barrels of oil per day.”

Current crude oil and condensate production in the OCS is about 1.25 million barrels per day. [Editorial insertion: But with 85% of the outer continental shelf off limits, you know that figure ought to be MUCH, MUCH higher – and that’s precisely the point Republicans are trying to makeIt’s the failure to report this blatantly obvious fact that makes people like myself so furious.]

So… What does that mean?

It means that if every American was running around with significantly underinflated tires and improperly tuned cars, then, yes, Sen. Obama is right, the savings from inflating the tires and tuning the cars could arguably match or exceed current output from the OCS.

However, since estimates of significant tire underinflation affect only about a quarter of the cars on road — as we noted above with the NHTSA statistics — and it’s highly unlikely that 100% of the cars are in need of tune- ups at any given time, the maximum savings amount is probably closer to 10%, Verrastro says.

“So the production offset is more likely to approach 800 thousand barrels per day – a tidy sum and a worthwhile target for savings, but not equal to OCS output,” he rules. “Finally, without knowing what production volumes could be expected from lifting the ban on OCS drilling moratoria, it’s impossible to assert that taking these fuel savings actions would exceed future offshore oil volumes, and in fact, one might argue that the combination of achieving these savings AND developing new supply would doubly enhance US energy security.”

– Jake Tapper and Natalie Gewargis

Barack Obama is simply wrong.  What makes the story particularly troubling is that so much of the media is deliberately and steadfastly refusing to portray the difference of opinion between McCain and Obama fairly, or to report the facts accurately.

Obama is misrepresenting both how much proper tire inflation would actually save the country on one end and how much oil we stand to gain by drilling offshore on the other.

Should we be regularly verifying that our tires are properly inflated?  Yes, we should – and I do (which by itself disproves Obama’s thesis, because his assumption is that EVERY SINGLE DRIVER is driving on underinflated tires).  But it is simply false – and frankly idiotic – to claim that doing so obviates our need to increase our domestic oil supply.  And when it comes to our domestic oil, we are not talking about thousands, or millions, or even billions of barrels of oil: between Alaska, and our shale oil deposits, and the outer continental shelf, we are literally talking about trillions of barrels of oil.

Why does the media continue to be so patently unfair, biased, and dishonest in its coverage?

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