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Last week Raser Technologies announced a Capitol Hill event for its unlikely new product: an electric Hummer H3, which the company claims gets up to 100 miles per gallon. Even if this were true, and it sounds to me about as likely as turning lead into gold, it’s hard to see the social value of a fuel-efficient 5,000-pound Hummer whose prototype costs millions of dollars. Yet proving the maxim that there’s a sucker born every minute, news of the event sent the company’s stock up nearly 20 percent.
The following day, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, jumped into the driver’s seat of a red Hummer H3 and took it for a test drive. “Better watch out,” he told reporters. “Never know where I’ll be.”
This isn’t Senator Hatch’s first promo gig for Utah-based Raser Technologies. At a press conference in 2005, Hatch, having proposed a tax credit for the purchase of hybrid vehicles, said, “I have had the goal of lowering the market barriers to the mass production of the best available automotive technologies. I believe that Raser’s technology breakthrough will play an important role in achieving this goal.” And eight months ago, Hatch attended a ribbon-cutting for a geothermal power plant built by Raser in Utah.
After the Capitol Hill-generated irrational exuberance passed, Raser’s share price has settled back down to approximately its pre-test drive level.
Incidentally, Raser executives have contributed generously to Republican causes, but not to Senator Hatch. In the last election alone, they contributed $10,600, of which all but $1000 went to Mitt Romney. Which is perfect: makers of the sucker Hummer supporting the ultimate sucker candidate.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”