The Toyota show trials are more like an episode of Judge Judy than an actual investigation by Congressional committees. Sitting in for the esteemed TV judge is a cadre of Democrats who's interest in nailing Big Business and protecting union constituencies can barely be hidden behind a wall of teary witnesses and flimsy conspiracy theories.
Before members of Congress even questioned CEO Akin Toyoda, they gave lengthy statements that accused Toyota of hiding evidence of malfunctions and endangering drivers. Then came the tear-jerking testimony of traumatized Toyota owners, the eleventh-hour departure of a Democratic congresswoman on the Committee after her connections to Toyota were publicized, and the incestuous analysis of auto journalists and consumer advocates.
Not heard was the testimony of certain automobile representatives, industry analysts, and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration officials who raised eyebrows at the hasty condemnation of the automaker while no less than two other carmakers have issued recalls at the same time – without any attention from the government or the public.
Just this week, both Hyundai and Chrysler recalled nearly half the number of cars Toyota has, but received about a millionth of the media attention.
“It just seems like [the response] is totally blown out of proportion,” said Brian Johnson, executive director for the Alliance of Worker Freedom. “Where were they when the millions of GM and Ford Explorers were recalled?”
Indeed, there were no hearings for GM or Ford in 2001, or for the Hyundai or Chrysler recalls happening now. There’s only a hearing for Toyota. And during it, Democrats were lining up to condemn the company for everything short of blowing up America.
“Toyota all but ignored pleas from consumers to examine sudden unintended acceleration incidents [SAIs]. They claim that they first became aware of sticking pedals in late October of 2009, when in fact they received numerous complaints many months and years earlier,” said Bart Stupak, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, during the investigation.