Dana Milbank of the Washington Post twists the knife into the carmaker CEOs, who were busted in Congress yesterday for flying their corporate jets to Washington to ask for a government handout. They couldn’t even “jet-pool” as one congressman mockingly suggested.
So it was hard to feel sorry for the executives when Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), late in the hearing, reminded them again that “the symbolism of the private jet is difficult,” and mischievously asked the witnesses whether, in another symbolic gesture, they would be willing to work for $1 a year, as Nardelli has offered to do.
“I don’t have a position on that today,” demurred Wagoner (2007 total compensation: $15.7 million).
“I understand the intent, but I think where we are is okay,” said Mulally ($21.7 million).
“I’m asking about you,” Roskam pressed.
“I think I’m okay where I am,” Mulally said.
Congress comes in for its share of brutality from Milbank, too.
It seemed everybody had a car story to tell. Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) let it be known that he was a car dealer for 25 years. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) disclosed that he had worked at the GM plant in Framingham. Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) wanted to see more ads for the car made in his district, while Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) said the Edsel was once made in his home town. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) read from Cicero and held up photos of cars. And Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) had no car stories to tell but delivered the surprising news that the problem with the Titanic was not its collision with an iceberg.
I’m a big fan of Milbank’s column, and this kind of colorful reporting, with his eye for the ridiculous, is why. Read the whole thing, as they say.Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.