On Hannity & Colmes, Newt Gingrich ridiculed Sen. Barack Obama for encouraging people to properly inflate their tires and falsely suggested that that constituted Obama's only "energy strategy." In fact, Obama has proposed a "Plan for a Clean Energy Future," which includes proposals to "invest $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy," "improve energy efficiency 50 percent by 2030," "support next generation biofuels," and "double fuel economy standards within 18 years." And, Gingrich's ridicule aside, the Department of Energy and the EPA, as well as Republican governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Charlie Crist, have all referred to the fuel economy benefits of properly inflated tires.
During the July 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Fox News contributor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) repeatedly mischaracterized Sen. Barack Obama's energy policy, falsely suggesting that Obama's only "energy strategy" was to encourage people to keep the tires on their vehicles properly inflated and asserting that Obama "suggested if we all inflated our tires, that we would solve the problem." He said to guest co-host Kirsten Powers, "[D]o you really think that inflating your tires is a rational energy strategy?" Later in the show, Gingrich also suggested that Obama's energy policy was limited to "inflate here, inflate now, avoid reality" and "inflate here, inflate now, pretend it doesn't exist," a takeoff on a petition called "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" promoted by American Solutions for Winning the Future, a group for which Gingrich serves as chairman.
In fact, during the July 30 campaign event in which he told the audience that "there are things you can do individually to save energy" such as "making sure your tires are properly inflated," Obama also mentioned proposals such as "help[ing] incentivize consumers" to transition to more fuel-efficient cars, developing new technologies, "work[ing] with the auto industry in developing some of these new technologies and plug-in hybrids," and "put[ting] people back to work building windmills and setting up wind turbines." Moreover, Obama's "Plan for a Clean Energy Future" on his campaign's website includes proposals to "invest $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy," "improve energy efficiency 50 percent by 2030," "support next generation biofuels," "double fuel economy standards within 18 years," "investigate market manipulation in oil futures," and enact a windfall profits tax on oil companies, the revenue from which "will be invested in a number of measures to reduce the burden of rising prices on families."
Gingrich's ridicule of Obama's suggestion aside, fueleconomy.gov, a website maintained jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, states: "You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires." It further calculated a fuel economy benefit of 3 percent, or a savings of up to 12 cents per gallon, with properly inflated tires.
Moreover, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) and Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL), supporters of presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain, reportedly encouraged citizens to properly inflate their tires. The Los Angeles Times reported on June 26: "Both governors appealed to those with the real power to make change -- average citizens -- to drive slower, keep engines tuned and tires properly inflated, to buy hybrids and lower overall consumption."
From the July 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
GINGRICH: See, here's a simple proposal: Senator McCain ought to challenge Senator Obama to a debate in the next two weeks on energy. Senator Obama's profoundly wrong on energy. He has a position that's anti-drilling. He has a position that is frankly ludicrous. If you saw him yesterday, he suggested if we all inflated our tires, that we would solve the problem. Think about it. You ought to take that clip. I think that clip is far more devastating than today because it's looney tunes.
GINGRICH: Let me ask you a question -- let me ask you a question, Kirsten.
GINGRICH: Since you're a devout defender of the one for whom we've all been waiting, I just have to ask you: Do you really think that inflating your tires is a rational energy strategy? I mean, I just want to --
POWERS: I don't -- you know, I think you know that that's not his entire energy strategy, for -- with all due respect.
GINGRICH: Didn't you think -- I mean, didn't you flinch --
GINGRICH: As a real professional, didn't you flinch when you saw that coming across?
POWERS: Well, you know, it's not -- like I said, if I thought it was his entire energy strategy, yeah, it would be a problem. But we can pick this up after the break.
GINGRICH: Well, I -- look, I think a couple things. First of all, I think going to Germany and declaring yourself a citizen of the world is a pretty bad way to run for president. I think, second, that this statement he made yesterday about inflating your tires and, you know, having your car checked up -- first of all, we don't build cars the way they did 50 years ago, and the idea that the answer to America's energy policy is, you know, "inflate here, inflate now, avoid reality," probably strikes -- you know, I mean, we have a -- you know, we have petition drive called "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" at American Solutions.
But it -- but maybe MoveOn.org should put up, you know, "inflate here, inflate now, pretend it doesn't exist," because that segment yesterday looked like somebody who would be a terrific professor at the University of Chicago but make no sense running for president.
POWERS: Right. But you know that's not his entire energy policy. I mean, do you really think that John McCain's energy policy is superior? I mean, to be completely honest about it. I mean, I don't -- I don't think either of them really have that great of plans --
GINGRICH: Kirsten --
POWERS: -- to tell you the truth.
GINGRICH: Kirsten, drilling now, which McCain said in his Saturday radio address, versus don't drill at all --
POWERS: But that's --
GINGRICH: -- nuclear power versus nothing. Do I think that McCain has a much better -- yeah, there are places that I'm critical of John McCain. On energy, he is about, oh, a dollar-and-a-half gallon better.