The Real Toyota Hearings Transcript

Special C-SPIN Coverage of the Toyota Recall Hearings

House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

February 23

Begin transcript:

REP. WALDEN (R-OR.): Secretary LaHood, are Toyotas safe to drive?

SEC. LAHOOD: We believe that the Toyotas listed on our Web site are not safe to drive – unlike the sporty, affordable Chevy Cobalt.

REP. SUTTON (D-OH.): So, you’re saying that a woman – a minority woman – driving a Toyota is putting her life at risk?

SEC. LAHOOD: Yes ma’am there is a significant risk of her Toyota accelerating, uh, unwantedly. Now had that woman checked out the surprisingly affordable Buick Enclave …

REP. DINGELL, (D-Mich.): Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you for your forthright testimony here today, and I’d like to ask you if you think these problems in vehicles built at Southern plants might be the result of negligence of workers who are unhappy? I mean workers whose job security and retirement are in constant jeopardy, and who’ve been denied the opportunity to collectively bargain? Who lack representation?

SEC. LAHOOD: If you mean to imply, Congressman, that these safety issues wouldn’t have occurred in cars built in UAW plants, uh, you’re absolutely right. Now, for the union professionals who build the luxurious Cadillac Escalade, there’s union quality behind every turn of the wrench.

REP. WALDEN: Now let me …

SEC. LAHOOD: I’d also like to say that the quality doesn’t end at the factory door…

REP. WALDEN: Thank you…

SEC. LAHOOD: …and it extends to those famous Mr. GoodWrench Mechanics…

REP. WALDEN: Mr Secretary, please. Can you explain why you believe the unwanted acceleration problems are electronic?

SEC. LAHOOD: Well, our experts compared Toyota wiring to the state-of-the-art electronics found in the legendary Chevy Corvette – which has an exciting new look for 2010 – and we determined that they used the circuits from old clock radios.

REP. WALDEN: Clock radios?

SEC. LAHOOD: Clock Radios. And Sony Walkmen.

REP. WALDEN: That’s a troubling allegation, Mr. …

REP. DINGELL: Mr. Secretary, what have you found out about the links between climate and the acceleration?

SEC. LAHOOD: Uh, yes. It’s definitely linked to climate change, with … the carbon and stuff …

REP. DINGELL: No, what I mean is the climate where the cars are manufactured. Isn’t it true that cars built in more humid, hotter climates are more prone to developing certain …

SEC. LAHOOD: Unwanted acceleration and other problems? Yes sir. That’s why we’re – I mean GM – is developing the cutting-edge Chevy Volt in Michigan.

REP. SUTTON: What about …

SEC. LAHOOD: And let me just add that the Volt proves that you don’t have to sacrifice performance and drivability to end our dependence on foreign oil and preserve our planet for future …

REP. SUTTON: Yes, now speaking of that, what about the allegations about the Prius brake lines?

SEC. LAHOOD: We’ve looked into that extensively, Congresswoman, and have determined that the floor mats cut the brake lines.

REP. SUTTON: The floor mats?

SEC. LAHOOD: Mostly when minorities are driving.

REP. SUTTON: Indeed?

SEC. LAHOOD: Yes. Mostly when minority women are on their way to polling stations to vote.

[noise, cross-talk]

CHRMAN STUPAK (D-Mich.) Order. Please come to order. Mr. Secretary … uh … Mr. Secretary, I want to ask you about the reasons for investigating the Prius.

SEC. LAHOOD: Yes sir.

CHRMAN STUPAK: And you believe it was warranted to investigate that model of Toyota?

SEC. LAHOOD: Congressman, when it comes to safety, there can be no compromise. The same with luxury, and that’s why discerning people who know the best, they drive Cadillacs.

REP SUTTON: Mr. LaHood, what are we to make of these rumors that Toyotas are … sexual predators …?

SEC. LAHOOD: Ah, allow me to clarify that, Congresswoman. Let’s be clear. It’s only certain newer models that have been accused of sexual harassment, and in one case the on-board GPS made very inappropriate comments. That’s why we’re recommending that single women, or women who are going to be driving alone much of the time, take a look at the 2010 Buick Lucern, with it’s reliability and safety features …

REP. WALDEN: Mr. Chairman … Mr. Chairman, if I may … Mr. Secretary, let me see if I have this straight. You maintain that Toyota manufactures racist, sexist, predatory environmentally unfriendly vehicles using parts from old household appliances. Is that right? I mean, have we left anything out?

SEC. LAHOOD: No sir, that about covers it. Except for the shoddy child safety restraints, and, you know, some complaints about the warranty. But in fairness, the 8-track tape players that are standard in most models are state-of-the-art, you know, if you’re into Emerson, Lake & Palmer or the Edgar Winter …

[noise, cross-talk]