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FOX Invents Scandal Where There Is None, Hopes to Divert Attention from the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

Reported by Marie Therese - March 15, 2006

Yesterday and again today (3-15-06) the crew at FOX & Friends made a big to-do about the fact that some members of Congress have taken advantage of a courtesy automotive leasing program and some few are "abusing" taxpayer trust by leasing more than one car. From a list of 136 such leases, I found it interesting that most of the names revealed on F&F were Democrats, despite the fact that the actual list of 136 leases presents a different picture. It would seem that the right wingers are scraping the floor, looking for for any little tidbit to distract the Republican base from the moral turpitude, political corruption and out-and-out incompetence of the Bush administration.

Topping the terrible trio's list of targets yesterday was New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel. Steve Doocy led off the segment by explaining that the leasing of cars is a legitimate perk provided for members of the House of Representatives. There is no similar program for Senators.

Despite the fact that the list shows that more Republicans and Democrats use the leasing program, and that one of the darlings of FOX News, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, rents two cars, yesterday the oh-so-cute trio concentrated most of their venom on Democrats.

STEVE DOOCY: "The Knight Ridder newspapers published a list of who rents what or who leases what. Charlie Rangel, the Congressman from New York - you, ladies and gentlemen, taxpayers of America, you are paying two dollars short of a thousand dollars a month so that Charlie Rangel can drive a Cadillac de Ville.

EDITH ANN "E. D." HILL: In a sixteen mile district that he represents.

DOOCY: That's right.

HILL: Sixteen miles. That's all.

BRIAN KILMEADE: And by the way you can't go more than 5 miles an hour there's so much traffic

DOOCY: You know what? He should ride a bike. Maxine Waters, you are paying $901, taxpayers, so she can drive a Lincoln Town Car - for Maxine Waters of Los Angeles.

(24 (17%) of the 136 Congresspersons involved with leases are African-American. Of the top 11 most expensive leases, only two are African-American. Neither Rangel nor Waters pays the highest lease costs, yet FOX News chose to lead off with these particular names. I wonder why?)

DOOCY: Meanwhile, Mike Ross, a Democrat from Arkansas, we're spending $1248 a month so that he can drive an Expedition.

HILL: And Representative McKeon from California, Republican, is driving an Acura for $1231. Now ..

KILMEADE: Now, let's give a salute, too, to others who forego this 'cause Senators can't do this. They're allowed to take this out of, out of their budget and lease a car. Senators can't. Congressmen can. Peter King - my guy - not usin' any of my money for any type of vehicle.

DOOCY: Yeah, but ...

KILMEADE: Doesn't take any public funds.

DOOCY: There are a hundred - there are a hundred and thirty six Congressmen and women who do it out of four thirty five.

HILL: The least expensive - Representative Carter from Texas. $210 for his car - don't know what it is.

(Had E.D. bothered to check past the first page of the list she had in her hand she would have seen that Rep. Carter leases a Chevy Tahoe.)

HILL: And then Rep. Myrick from Nortch Carolina a Honda Accord for $214. Now, you know, we're makin' a fuss about this but a number of them who live in states like Montana or Wyoming or Texas ...

DOOCY: Right.

HILL: ... California, they say - well, probably not in California as much - but in areas where your district could be huge.

DOOCY: Right.

HILL: If they drive their own car, the government reimburses them 44.5 cents a gallon - uh, a mile. So they say ...

DOOCY: Sweet! I'd drive, too.

HILL: Wait a second! Wait a second! - If I use my car, it's gonna cost you a lot more, so it is cheaper to lease these cars.

DOOCY: Right.

HILL: The reason leases are so high, they say, is because they're only there for two year terms, therefore they only do a two year lease ...

DOOCY: Right.

HILL: ... do it's a higher rate.

DOOCY: Oh, heaven forbid they would take a chance and rent one for three years!

KILMEADE: Isn't there like a 95% reelection rate?

DOOCY: Yeah.

HILL: Well.

KILMEADE: Or 98%?

DOOCY: By the way there are two listed as triple-dippers, people who do lease three cars. They are Mike McIntyre, a Democrat from North Carolina and Mike Ross, a Democrat from the great state of Arkansas. They both lease three cars.

Doocy conveniently left out the DOUBLE-DIP category, which has six names, four of which are Republicans, including the afore-mentioned immigrant-bashing Tom Tancredo. He also neglected to tell the FOX audience that of the 3 of the 5 least expensive leases are held by Democrats.

COMMENT
This morning, just before a segment outlining the utter and complete incompetence and/or malfeasance of TSA Attorney Carla Martin in the Moussaoui trial, the FOX-y Friends took just a moment to haul Rep. Charles Rangel over the coals again for having the gall to lease a Cadillac de Ville legally with full disclosure and in violation of no law or ethical code.

The right wing is just desperate to find something, ANYTHING, to tar the Democrts with, because they know, deep down, they're on the losing side. What only a few months ago seemed impossible is now not just possible, but almost a certainty: Republicans will lose both houses of Congress.

And poor ol' George Dubya - this time he can't send our men and women to a foreign land to die in order to save his political bacon.

Some interesting data was left out by the FOX & Friends hosts yesterday.

Total number of members of Congress who lease autos:

Republicans 72
Democrats 64

Number of Members Who Hold Most Expensive Leases:

Republicans 6
Democrats 5

Number Who Hold Cheapest Leases:

Republicans 2
Democrats 3

Members Who Hold Leases on Foreign Cars:

Republicans 5
Democrats 5

Double-dippers (members who lease two cars):

Republicans 4
Democrats 2

Triple-dippers (members who lease three cars):

Republicans 0
Democrats 2


UPDATE: Post amended to reflect that on March 15, 2006 FOX & Friends guest Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense did mention that there were 72 Republicans and 64 Democrats who leased cars. FOX also printed in the chyron the names of the Representatives leasing the four most expensive cars (which incorrectly made it appear that there was an even balance between Republicans and Democrats, when in fact more Republicans rent expensive cars) and the five least expensive cars (which correctly showed more Democrats driving cheaper cars).

In the course of the segment, Ellis mentioned the names of Maruice Hinchey (D-NY), Susan Myrick (R-NC), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Rep John Doolittle (R-CA). He went on to say "This is no different than the Post Office scandal earlier in the - you know, a decade ago - or other areas. And It's a bipartisan problem. We have 72 Republicans, 64 Democrats."

FOX aired the end of segment music started on the words "bipartisan problems."

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