Now Who's Blowing Smoke?

Cato Institute fellow thinks 'Set America Free' alliance pushing a unachievable 500 mpg fantasy based on 'bad science'.

Published: 03-Apr-2005

In the late 1950s, some people really believed Detroit and Big Oil had suppressed a remarkable invention -- a tablet you could drop in you car's gas tank that would let it run on water. Much to my surprise, a claim only slightly less outlandish has suddenly taken the fancy of neoconservative writers -- the same fellows who recently believed castor beans and peanut mold might be fearsome weapons of mass destruction.

The new version of turning water into gasoline first appeared in Newsweek. Fareed Zakaria wrote, "Tomorrow, President Bush could make the following speech: '... It is now possible to build cars that are powered by a combination of electricity and alcohol-based fuels, with petroleum as only one element among many. My administration is going to put in place a series of policies that will ensure that in four years, the average new American car will get 300 miles per gallon of petroleum. And I fully expect in this period to see cars in the United States that get 500 miles per gallon.' "

The president could make such a speech, but only if he were indifferent about being hauled off in a straitjacket. Yet the "geo-green" apostle of the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman, echoed similar political advice: "Most of all -- it's smart politics.... Imagine if George Bush declared that he was getting rid of his limousine for an armor-plated Ford Escape hybrid, adopting a geo-green strategy and building an alliance of neocons, evangelicals and greens to sustain it. His popularity at home -- and abroad -- would soar."

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