Why the tire-pressure gauge stings; Update: The spin continues
posted at 5:30 pm on August 4, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
An inability to comprehend context appears to have broken out among the Leftosphere. Apparently, none of our colleagues on the port side of the blogosphere can figure out why Barack Obama’s suggestion that the energy crisis could be solved through tire inflation and tune-ups was such a gaffe, or why the John McCain campaign’s distribution of pressure gauges skewers Obama. One blogger goes so far as to point out that the Bush administration actually recommends that motorists inflate tires properly for efficient use of gasoline.
Let’s provide the context these folks either didn’t catch or are deliberately evading (emphases mine):
There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy. 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’d actually save just as much!
Obama didn’t intend this as some sort of offhand comment about conservation and efficiency. No one doubts that proper tire inflation can help with efficiency, and no one thinks it’s silly to maintain one’s vehicle for a variety of reasons. However, Obama clearly stated that we could get just as much oil from tire inflation and tune-ups as we can get from drilling — a ludicrous statement well deserving of ridicule.
Jim Geraghty calculated at the time that, assuming a 10% improvement in gas efficiency, we could save about 330,000 barrels of oil a day through proper tire inflation. Most experts put the actual improvement at 3%. With our present consumption of 20 million barrels a day, that comes to a savings of 1.65% at the most generous assumptions, and more likely about 0.5%. Current production of American oil is 8 million barrels a day; expanding drilling to the OCS and to interior shale would eventually provide millions more per day, not just the 100,000 barrels we’ll get out of our tires.
So yes, inflate your tires properly and get regular tune-ups. But if you think that will solve the supply crisis or make us independent of foreign oil, then you probably won’t get the joke no matter how many times we explain it.
The Ohio Republican Party has some fun with this in their latest web ad:
Update: Jim Geraghty has a note to McCain surrogates: explain the gag.
Update II: David Price at Dean Esmay’s joint has a few more calculations:
How silly is this statement? Doing the math, it looks like he’s off by about an order of magnitude. The DOE link says you can save 3.3% and U.S. consumption is 20.8M barrels a day, half of which is gasoline, so even if fully half the population is driving on very poorly inflated tires you’re talking about only about 165,000 barrels a day, a tenth or less of the millions of barrels a day we could add in production. Hell, the mean estimate for ANWR alone is 780,000 bpd. …
Catch all the shifting goalposts, flawed assumptions, and bad math there? “All the oil we could get from drilling” becomes “the increase from expanded offshore drilling,” and even then uses a number that seems out of step with published estimates of 250,000 to 1 million bpd. Then we casually more than double the tire-inflation savings by tossing in “maintenance.” Then we throw out quantitative analysis altogether by using the impossibly vague “many drivers.” Finally, we ball up our morass of bad data into a misleading conclusion, and for emphasis we state explicitly the one assumption we always regarded as unassailable: Obama must be right.
And note that none of these estimates includes the production from shale, which has a low estimate of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil — and which doesn’t require deep-sea drilling to extract.
Put even more simply: If Democrats want us to believe their oft-stated aphorism that we can’t drill our way out of a supply crisis, then they’d be much better off not trying to convince us we can inflate our way out of one.