As we noted here a few days ago, the great automaker bailout was a question of when, not if. That ultimate day when the fiscal odometer turns 100,000 (in gazillions of taxpayer money, and maybe even kajillions by the time the Bush admin darkens the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the last time), is inching closer, like a 1974 Chevy Vega being pushed back into the used car lot you just bought it from:
A federal "car czar" would oversee a government-run restructuring of U.S. auto companies in return for a $15 billion bailout of the beleaguered industry under an emerging deal between the White House and Congress.
Negotiators worked through the night Monday narrowing differences on a bill to rush short-term loans to the struggling carmakers through a plan that requires that the industry reinvent itself to survive—and pay back the government if it doesn't. The package could come to a vote as early as Wednesday.
The measure would put a government overseer named by President George W. Bush in charge of setting guidelines for an industrywide overhaul, with the power to revoke the loans if the automakers fail to do what's necessary to become viable. The White House was seeking tougher consequences, including allowing the overseer—being called a car czar—to force the companies into bankruptcy if they weren't doing enough to cut labor costs, restructure their debt and downsize to stay afloat.
The one ray of hope in this story? "Despite optimism on both sides that Congress and the White House could reach a swift agreement on the measure, it was still a tough sell on Capitol Hill."
Read: As with the grotesque financial sector bailout (doesn't that seem like years ago?), virtually all of those against this are just waiting for the right "sweetener" to make the subsidy go down.
My vote for car czar? Gary Numan (see below).
Second choice: Former South Dakota Rep. Bill Janklow, who displayed just the right mix of phony remorse and righteous anger when convicted of vehicular manslaughter for a 2003 driving death. It seems to me that that's exactly what you want in a "czar"—a nearly complete jackass who tries to bully his way with the people who run him and the people he lords over.
Special note to Congress and politicians in general: Czar is a terrible word to use for any office. The czars (and czarinas!) were terrible rulers who presided over one of the biggest ongoing failures in human history (a.k.a. Czarist Russia). About the best thing you can say about them is that one of them might have had sex with a horse. Check out the history books, for god's sake already.
Enough already, start your engines today with synth-pop New Wave androgyny of Gary Numan: