Rich Galen

It's really all about General Motors, this big three bailout.

Chrysler is done. Gone. Out of business. Hanging on because no one knows where the light switch is.

Ford is only showing up because of some misguided Detroit auto manufacturer nonsense. Ford is, actually, in pretty good shape.

GM is the Oliver Twist in this drama. "Please sir, I want some more."

Two weeks ago the CEOs of the car companies flew in to Washington on their private jets and expected the Congress to toss up about $25 billion.

It was the jets. Dopes.

The jets were the metaphor everyone had been searching for which would crystallize the anger in regular Americans' minds about all the bailouts to all the greedy thugs who made bad bets which taxpayers are going to have to cover.

Why. Why is there such a focused antipathy toward the auto companies?

Several reasons. The car companies were not the first ones in.

The big Wall Street firms were. And we didn't like them. We spent hundreds of billions of dollars so the slick-hair, Manhattan, Limo, East-Coast-Beautiful-People could maintain their houses in the Hamptons.

Then came AIG - the insurance giant - to get into our gruel and we were really unhappy with that. Especially when they kept holding their high-roller retreats using our money to pay for someone else's spa treatments and truffels.

Finally came the banks which had made us grovel for car and home and student loans and charged us every time we sneezed and pretended they were there to help build out communities but were really there to suck money out of every pore of our communal bodies.

We were really, REALLY tired of all that.

Then the car guys flew in on their private jets and wanted $25 billion … just because.

I know the automobile industry hires hundreds of lobbyists who provide them with excellent advice.

I'm certain that what the lobbyists told the car guys was something on the order of this: Members of Congress and United States Senators are very, VERY sensitive to what their constituents think.

According to a CNN poll "nearly 1,100 people, showed that 61% of those surveyed oppose government assistance for the major U.S. automakers."

That's two-to-one against. Two constituents are opposed to bailing out the car guys for every one constituent who is in favor.

Get it?

So, the car guys ditch the planes and decide to drive to Washington for their do-over with the Congress. Not regular old cars, but hybrid cars which don't use gasoline but use … arugula or asparagus or something other than gas.

That might have worked if they had done that two weeks ago, but after the private jet fiasco, even the dumbest car buyer could see this was just a stunt.

They take the keys out of the ignition, they walk into the Committee Hearing Room and tell us that they were wrong in asking for $25 billion last week. The real number they need is $34 billion. That means their needs are growing at $4.5 billion per week.

$642,857,142.86 a day. $26,785,714.28 an hour.

FOR GOD'S SAKE! GIVE THEM THE MONEY, ALREADY! I can't afford to wait another minute at $446,428.57 per.

What is astonishing to me is that the Chairman of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, still has his job. Chrysler has been the poor relation for decades. Ford has apparently taken the steps necessary to be able to survive this storm.

But GM is an absolute basket case and no one seems to want to ask the guy in charge how he let his company get into a situation where it needs an $18 billion dollar hand-out from the taxpayers to stay in business.

What about the GM Board of Directors. Where have they been. Taking turns flying around on the corporate jets? According to GM's web page the board is responsible for "increased stockholder value," and "has responsibility to GM's customers, employees, suppliers and to the communities where it operates."

Really? Last year on this date a share of GM stock was selling for $27.68. Yesterday it closed at $4.11. The GM board has "increase shareholder value" to the tune of MINUS 85% over the past 12 months.

According to Forbes Magazine, GMAC - the financing arm of GM - is also in the soup. Just before Thanksgiving GMAC petitioned to be declared a bank holding company so it could share in the $700 billion bank rescue plan.

But that's not the end of the car company in-breeding. Again, from Forbes:

GMAC is majority owned by New York-based private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP, which also owns most of Chrysler.

GM, GMAC, Chrysler all own pieces of each other and they are dipping into every piggy bank the federal government has on the shelf in an attempt to bail themselves out of the mess they put themselves in.

I've had enough. Last one out of Detroit, turn off the lights.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.