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Newt Gingrich Mischaracterizes Obama’s “Inflate Your Tires” Comments Along With The Rest Of His Energy Platform

Reported by Ellen - August 1, 2008 -

On last night’s (7/31/08) Let’s Attack Obama Hannity & Colmes show, Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity repeatedly ridiculed Barack Obama's comments about the gasoline savings from properly inflated automobile tires. They misleadingly suggested that Obama thought inflated tires was the answer to the country's energy problems and they ignored the fact that Obama's comment mocked John McCain's energy policy. Gingrich went on to falsely assert that Obama is against drilling and nuclear energy. Unfortunately, substitute co-host Kirsten Powers seemed unprepared to rebut most of the smears. With video.

In Part 2 of his two-part segment, Gingrich jumped on Obama’s statement of the day before in which he commented that inflating tires and keeping a car properly tuned would save as much gas as offshore drilling would provide. As ABC News and The NY Daily News noted, Obama was criticizing McCain’s endorsement of offshore drilling as much as he was advocating inflating tires.

ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported Obama’s statement thusly: "There are things that you can do individually though to save energy," Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said. "Making sure your tires are properly inflated, simple thing, but we could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups. You could actually save just as much."

Tapper went on to fact check Obama’s claim and found that while it is true a lot of gas can be saved with Obama’s suggestions, it was not as much as offshore drilling would provide. However, according to theautochannel.com, (which got their statistics from Yokohama Tire Corporation), 2.8 billion gallons of gas is wasted by U.S. drivers each year simply because they're driving on under-inflated tires.

Nevertheless, Gingrich was predictably quick to distort and then deride Obama’s remarks. During his segment with Powers, Gingrich said, “The idea that the answer to America’s energy policy is, you know, inflate here, inflate now, avoid reality (Hannity laughed heartily) ...That segment yesterday looked like somebody who would be a terrific professor at the University of Chicago but make no sense running for president.”

Powers didn’t seem to know the point that Obama had been trying to make. She correctly said, “But you know that’s not his entire energy policy. Do you really think that John McCain’s energy policy is superior?” She went on to take her own swipe at Obama. “I don’t think either of them really have that great a plans (sic), to tell you the truth.”

Gingrich went on to mischaracterize the rest of Obama’s platform by saying, “Drilling now, which McCain said in his Saturday radio address, versus don’t drill at all; nuclear power versus nothing.”

In reality, Obama’s energy platform includes drilling, just not offshore or in ANWR. His website states that he’d require oil companies to use the 68 million acres of onshore leases they already hold which would produce an extra 4.8 million barrels of oil a day.

Furthermore, Obama’s detailed energy plan includes what he calls, “safe and secure nuclear energy.” The plan specifically endorses nuclear energy when it states, “It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power from the table.” The plan also sets forth a lengthy list of ways to develop alternative fuels as well as ways to conserve energy.

But although she had just criticized Obama's energy plan, Powers didn’t seem to know those particulars about it. Either that, or she didn't think it worth correcting the misrepresentation. While she was right on target in several segments last night (especially the panel questioning whether Obama played the race card), it was disappointing she was not better prepared in this one. The right has been having a field day with the “inflated tires” comment and Gingrich is a major proponent of drilling offshore and in ANWR so she had every reason to expect this issue to come up.

During Gingrich's time with Hannity, of course, the two regaled each other with jokes about inflated tires.