Bad news: Chinese commuters stuck in ... nine-day traffic jam

I keep thinking I’m misunderstanding this story somehow, that maybe what they’re saying is that travel time between point A and point B has been increased by nine days, not that people have actually been stuck on the highway for that long.

But dude — I think they are.

The traffic jam started Aug. 14 on a stretch of the highway that is frequently congested, especially after large coalfields were discovered in Inner Mongolia, Zhang said. Traffic volume has increased 40 percent every year.

Drivers stranded in the gridlock in the Inner Mongolia region and Hebei province, headed toward Beijing, passed the time sleeping, walking around, or playing cards and chess. Local villagers were doing brisk business selling instant noodles, boxed lunches and snacks, weaving between the parked trucks on bicycles.

Though there were no reports of road rage violence, drivers complained about price-gouging by villagers who were their only source of food and water.

The main area of the bottleneck is creeping along at around a third of a mile per day; Chinese authorities hope to finally get things moving by mid-September. I’m not going to ask the obvious question because I don’t want to know the answer and don’t want to have to think about the mechanics of the clean-up, so instead I offer this to you as our metaphor of the day. If the GOP does indeed take back the House and the Dems hold onto the Senate, this is the pace at which legislation will move through Congress for the next two years. As for the midterms themselves, I can give you an automotive metaphor of the day for that too. Here you go. Guess which car the Democrats are.

Oh, by the way: I’ve seen a bunch of people on Twitter snark that this mother of all traffic jams and the carbon emissions it’s producing puts a real damper on Tom Friedman’s creepy admiration of Chinese environmental policy. But you don’t know the half of it. Via former Hot Airite Bryan Preston, have a look at this. Exit question: How long before you’d simply abandon your car and start to walk home? I think I’d last 12 hours. Maybe.