MSNBC Host Says McCain Joke 'Perpetuates' Energy Problems

     It bothers some in the media that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, Ariz., has continued to ridicule his opponent’s suggestion that properly inflated tires “could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling.”


     Sen. Barack Obama, Ill., the presumptive Democratic nominee, made the air pressure claim at a rally in Missouri on July 30. McCain’s campaign almost immediately distributed tire pressure gauges labeled “Obama’s Energy Plan” to mock the claim.


     MSNBC mid-day anchor Alex Witt interviewed former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott on August 7 about McCain’s strategy to ridicule his opponent.


     “But sir, when John McCain picks up this tire-gauge issue and you know – throws it about back and forth, doesn’t he just perpetuate the problem?” Witt asked. “I mean, if you were advising him, wouldn’t you say, ‘Can you leave it alone?’ or does it work for him?”


     Lott disagreed with Witt’s assertion about McCain perpetuating the problem. Prior to the interview Witt told viewers that Lott is now a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry.


     “No, I think that the air gauge thing emphasizes how actually frivolous the Obama, you know, proposals are with regard to energy,” Lott said. “Sure, and everybody says inflate your tires more, turn your thermostat up a little bit more. But is that going to solve the problem? Sure we want conservation. We should give people tax incentives to insulate their homes better and do other things to conserve energy. That’s not enough. You can’t solve this problem just by shrinking your usage. You’ve got to produce more.”


     Obama responded to criticism about his comments by doubling-down on his tire-gauge claim at a rally in Ohio on August 5.


     “The other thing is, they are making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by three to four percent,” Obama said. “It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant. They think it’s funny that they’re making fun of something that is actually true.”


     Witt wasn’t the only journalist expressing frustration over McCain’s criticism. CNN dedicated several segments to proving Obama right, including one on the August 5 “Election Center.” Time magazine’s Michael Grunwald also took Obama’s side in an August 4 article posted on


     But John Hinderaker of Power Line debunked the claim that tire inflation could save as much oil as could be produced by exploration and drilling in restricted federal lands and waters in a post on August 5.

     Hinderaker cited estimates of at least a trillion barrels of oil in currently restricted areas and in untapped oil shale. The estimates of available oil used to make Obama’s claim valid were “absurdly low,” according to Hinderaker.