Video: Auto-mogul-in-chief takes new GM lemon for a spin

Hot vid from today’s speech at a Chrysler plant in Detroit, in which The One reminded Republicans that without federal largesse a whole lot of auto workers would be unemployed right now, which means America’s new electric money pit would be nothing but a pipe dream. In fact, this Volt photo (actually taken a few weeks ago) gave me the best chuckle I’ve had today. Suggested caption: “$41,000?!”

And yeah, it’s a lemon. An expensive one, too:

In the industry, some suspect that G.M. and the Obama administration decided against selling the Volt at a loss because they want the company to appear profitable before its long-awaited initial stock offering, which is likely to take place next month. For taxpayers, that approach might have made sense if the government planned on selling its entire 61 percent stake in G.M. But the administration has said it will sell only enough equity in the public offering to relinquish its controlling stake in G.M. Thus the government will remain exposed to the company’s (and the Volt’s) long-term fate…

Quantifying just how much taxpayer money will have been wasted on the hastily developed Volt is no easy feat. Start with the $50 billion bailout (without which none of this would have been necessary), add $240 million in Energy Department grants doled out to G.M. last summer, $150 million in federal money to the Volt’s Korean battery supplier, up to $1.5 billion in tax breaks for purchasers and other consumer incentives, and some significant portion of the $14 billion loan G.M. got in 2008 for “retooling” its plants, and you’ve got some idea of how much taxpayer cash is built into every Volt.

In the end, making the bailout work — whatever the cost — is the only good reason for buying a Volt. The car is not just an environmental hair shirt (a charge leveled at the Prius early in its existence), it is an act of political self-denial as well.

Suggested marketing slogan: “You paid for this thing. Why not pay a little more?” As for the clip, the Secret Service was leery about letting him behind the wheel but relented when they realized he’d only be driving it 10 feet. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is about the range you get when running off of the electric battery anyway. (I kid, I kid. Sort of.)