Kit Bond: Defender of Detroit, and golf carts
By By Adam Sichko
June 13, 2007

WASHINGTON Suffice it to say that Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., hasn't had good luck with cars lately. A month ago, one hit him.

But Missouri's senior senator smiled this morning as he stood in front of two hybrid electric SUVs that can also run on ethanol biofuel (the cars, thankfully, were parked). The cars, made by Ford, are the first ever to wed the technologies of hydroelectric power and flexible fuel capabilities in one vehicle.

Bond, along with fuel friend Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), hailed the development as a "major breakthrough" and wished Ford was giving him one of the first such vehicles, rather than the U.S. Department of Energy and the Renewable Fuels Coalition.

"Carl and I were wondering whether we could get in on one of those, but I'm guessing the ethics committee would look strongly at that one," Bond said with a smile.

Flanked by Michigan's two senators, Bond went on to defend "Detroit," the geographical moniker that is a reference to the "Big Three" American automakers: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. The Senate is debating a broad energy bill this week that strikes contentious chords between many senators and the automotive industry with people like Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois deriding the auto industry's perceived lack of progress on fuel efficiency issues.

"It's very important to have a bill that makes sense, so that the auto industry will have a final, clear-cut system with timelines, deadlines and incentives that can be met realistically," an emphatic Bond said, repeating the last phrase to reinforce his point.

He later cautioned against pursuing "politically popular but technologically unrealistic goals."

Bond's appearence with Levin foreshadowed an announcement later this week, where the two will propose a fuel economy package that will rival current proposals in the energy bill, and likely be more palatable to the auto industry than current ideas.

One major point of disagreement comes over the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards Congress established in 1975, which include setting an averave miles-per-gallon bar that automakers must meet.

At the press conference, a Ford official argued that she knew of no vehicle that could get 50 mpg, a target that's been suggested by several government departments.

Then Bond chimed in: "Except golf carts. We can all feed our cattle out of the back of golf carts."

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