Given what happened on Capitol Hill this week, it's clear that my way of car shopping is hopelessly outdated. Today's experts on the automobile that's best for my family and me are the members of Congress. (Please note that this acknowledgment is not meant as a slight to President-elect Barack Obama, known in our house as "PEBO." During the recent presidential campaign, PEBO admonished us all to keep our tires properly inflated. Thank you for the tip.)
PEBO's help notwithstanding, the recent congressional hearings raised questions I never had thought to ask when car shopping. For example, Sen. Chuck Schumer told auto executives that it is "unacceptable" to continue building cars with internal-combustion engines and that I should be able to buy a "plug-in hybrid electric car." Does Mr. Schumer know of such a car I can afford that would allow me to make my daily 150-mile round trip commute? If I don't make it home, will he give me a ride?
Can you give me a hint as to which of the Big Three automakers Congress will allow to survive? Will you permit the dealer where I purchase a car to stay in business? Should I get the extended warranty?
While driving, I listen to talk radio and would like to have satellite radio installed, but not if Congress is going to insist on the Fairness Doctrine. Will you?
If I get the tow package, will Sen. Chris Dodd accuse me of owning an "inefficient, gas-guzzling" vehicle and of dismissing "the threat of global warming"?
If I put down a minimal deposit at the time of purchase and then wait a few months and default on my loan, will the federal government bail me out? Because the feds will own the automakers, should I call the Department of Transportation or the "car czar" when I need a tuneup?
The best solution for my problem is to have a member of Congress join me while I hunt for a new car. I hope the member you assign can "kick the tires" and answer some of these questions -- and one other:
Congress has insisted that auto company executives achieve performance standards or be financially penalized. The CEOs of Chrysler, Ford and GM all are working for $1 per year. Shouldn't congressional pay be adjusted the same way?
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.