Matthews wrongly suggested Obama exaggerated cost of a tank of gas


Chris Matthews suggested Sen. Barack Obama was exaggerating the price of gasoline when Obama reportedly noted a friend's complaint that it cost "$85 to fill up my tank." In fact, numerous trucks and SUVs have gasoline tanks large enough that, based on current prices, it costs $85 or more to fill them up.

On the April 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews suggested Sen. Barack Obama was exaggerating the price of gasoline when Obama reportedly said, "Gas prices are killing folks. ... I got an email from a friend of mine; it says, just in case you're not living in the real world, being driven around by Secret Service, it just cost me $85 to fill up my tank." After airing a different clip of Obama discussing gas prices during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, Matthews stated: "I think he talked about an $85 tank. That's a hell of a big tank, even in today's prices. Eighty-five dollars? What is that?" In fact, numerous trucks and SUVs have gasoline tanks large enough that it costs $85 or more to fill them up, based on "today's prices."

For instance, the Ford F-150, according to, "has been the most popular vehicle sold in the United States for nearly every year of the past three decades.", a website that describes itself as being "maintained jointly by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency" in order "to provide accurate MPG [miles per gallon] information to consumers," states that the 2007 four-wheel-drive (4WD) F-150 offers a gas tank in sizes ranging from 26.0 to 30.0 gallons. As of March 31, the average U.S. retail price for regular fuel is $3.290 per gallon, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). Pennsylvania's average gas prices for regular fuel as of April 2 are slightly lower than the national average, at $3.289 per gallon for regular fuel, according to the American Automobile Association's (AAA) Daily Fuel Gauge Report. (The DOE does not list the average fuel price for Pennsylvania.) Therefore, a full tank of gas for the F-150, based on the national average, would cost between $85.54 and $98.70. Based on Pennsylvania's average price according to AAA, it would cost between $85.51 and $98.67 to fill this F-150 model's gas tank.

Other popular trucks and SUVs, in addition to the F-150, cost at least $85 to fill a full tank of gas:


Fuel tank size(s), in gallons

Cost to fill tank (national avg)

Cost to fill tank (PA avg)

2007 Ford F-150 4WD




2007 Chevrolet Suburban 4WD




2008 Toyota Tundra 4WD




2007 Cadillac Escalade AWD




2007 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD




2008 Land Rover Range Rover




In addition, the 2007 GMC Yukon Denali 1500 AWD has fuel tanks ranging from 26.0 to 31.0 gallons. But this vehicle requires premium gasoline, which, according to the DOE, averaged $3.512 a gallon nationally as of March 31. According to AAA, the average cost of premium gasoline in Pennsylvania as of April 2 is $3.621. Therefore, it would cost approximately $91.31 to $108.87 to fill the 2007 Yukon Denali, according to the nationwide average, and between $94.15 and $112.25 to fill it in Pennsylvania.

From the April 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to this, Jonathan Capehart. Not only does Pennsylvania use gasoline, it also heats the homes. It's a cold state.

JONATHAN CAPEHART (The Washington Post): Right.

MATTHEWS: It's above the Mason-Dixon line, so it hits people at home and on the road.

CAPEHART: Right, yeah. This gives both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama an opportunity to talk about their, you know, clean energy proposals, what they want to do. And I think Senator Obama yesterday talked a little bit about this. And I actually was impressed that he didn't shy away from -- he talked about the need to do something with coal, the need to do something to wean the United States off of dependence in foreign oil. But he also talked about the need to look at how to make nuclear power part of the mix, which, you know, for I think the Democratic Party constituency, is a rather courageous thing to say.

MATTHEWS: It sure is. Let's take look at Obama today on that point.

OBAMA [video clip]: I was in a bar with [Sen.] Bob Casey [D-PA] -- great guy. And we were catching a little bit of the Final Four, and we were talking to a guy sitting next to us who was out of work. And he made a point that should be obvious to so many of us, but, you know, you sometimes don't think about; he's out of work. He's having to drive around looking for work, and he's saying it was killing -- "it's killing me to try to fill up my gas tank just to get to a interview for a job." You're out of work, and here you are just burning money filling up the tank.

MATTHEWS: I think he talked about an $85 tank. That's a hell of a big tank, even in today's prices. Eighty-five dollars? What is that? Anyway, my thought, Linda -- let's ask politics here. [Rep.] Jack Murtha [D-PA] was on the show tonight, and he said that Hillary Clinton, his candidate -- and I find it a surprise that she's his candidate, because he's a big anti-war guy -- will beat Barack Obama in the state of Pennsylvania later this month by double digits. Is that a bridge too far? Is that a marker that can't be met, or is that about right?

LINDA DOUGLASS (National Journal): Well, I mean, if you look at the polls, the polls seem to indicate that she could certainly beat him in double digits. We have to see who these newly registered Pennsylvania voters are. It's a steep climb for Barack Obama. This oil -- gas price thing, again, has been very helpful for him, one would think, in Pennsylvania, 'cause it allows him to connect on kind of a working-class, kitchen-table issue --


DOUGLASS: -- of the kind that he really hasn't been able to excel in before. But she's way ahead.

Posted In
Elections, Environment & Science, Energy
Chris Matthews
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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