Everyone's favorite former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, came out of the woodwork yet again last week to go on an offensive attacking President Obama. My inbox was soon flooded with google alerts as Romney mentioned the Sierra Club in interview after interview. He may not heart us, but he sure hearts talking about us.
Romney, a nominal Michigander, led the charge against both fuel economy standards and the landmark California global warming emissions standards for cars during his ill-fated presidential campaign. (He was slightly more popular than the Edsel.) Last week, as Chrysler's bankruptcy proceedings drew to a close and GM's began, Romney invoked the Sierra Club in order to try and prove some hackneyed chestnut about environmentalists killing the auto industry.
Romney's anti-Obama media tour found him declaring to one media outlet that GM ought to "focused on building the kind of cars Americans want, not the kind of cars that the Sierra Club would like to make us buy." He then told the Associated Press, "[l]ook, I don't want the Sierra Club telling General Motors what kind of cars they should build." He also repeated this point during an appearance on MSNBC.
While the Sierra Club may prove a convenient foil for conservatives' daily talking points (Rush Limbaugh usually mentions us several times every week), the truth about the auto industry is somewhat less convenient for Romney and others. The American auto industry is not in dire straits because the Sierra Club forced it to build cars people didn't want. It did that all by itself. In fact, the industry wasn't forced to do much of anything at all. Fuel economy standards languished for more than two decades. The auto industry fought California and other states that wanted to slash global warming emissions all the way to the Supreme Court.
Luckily, our president is named Barack Obama, not Mitt Romney. And luckily for the sake of the auto industry itself, our national security, and our planet, President Obama understands that the automakers must innovate and start making the kind of fuel-efficient, quality cars that all Americans -- not just the Sierra Club -- want. By essentially implementing California’s landmark standards nationwide, President Obama will renew the industry by making sure that the next generation of advanced autos are made right here in the U.S. (GM just announced one such car). Oh, and it'll slash our dependence on oil, save consumers a boatload at the pump, and fight global warming at the same time. The auto industry gets this too -- that's why they stood right behind Obama when he announced his comprehensive national plan for clean cars.
Unfortunately for Romney and other conservatives, there's no provision in the law to help people who are intellectually bankrupt. They might, however, fall under Lemon Laws.