"There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy," Obama said. "Making sure your tires are properly inflated - simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling - if everybody was just inflating their tires? And getting regular tune-ups? You'd actually save just as much!"
Yes, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) actually suggested on the campaign trail that inflating your tires will save as much oil as can be procured by expanding domestic oil drilling, a suggestion that is downright laughable and mathematically impossible (see below the page break for more on that).
So where are the mainstream media on this?
MRC news analysts searched today's morning shows and the broadcast evening news programs and found nothing. Searches of Google News for mainstream media mentions of this statement yield hardly anything. A July 31 Reuters article by reporter Steve Holland indirectly touches on Obama's statement by citing Sen. McCain's critique. It's from 19 paragraphs into the article:
Noting Obama's opposition to offshore oil drilling, he said his Democratic rival had urged Americans to make sure their tires were properly inflated as a way to increase gas mileage.
"Yesterday, he suggested that we put air in our tires to save on gas. My friends, let's do that. But do you think that's enough to break our dependence on Middle Eastern oil? I don't think so," he said to chuckles from the crowd.
By contrast, conservative blogs have seized on the statement. Power Line's John Hinderaker tackled the risible claim in "Get This Man a Teleprompter" (video included in excerpt below):
Barack Obama is a lot like Sean Penn or George Clooney. If you give him a script, he can deliver it pretty well. But if he tries to talk without a script that has been written for him by others, he quickly reveals that he is poorly-informed if not downright ignorant. Today he delivered another classic, by claiming that if only we would all properly inflate our tires, we could save as much gasoline as "all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling." Seriously:
The stunned silence with which the crowd greets this howler suggests that most Americans have a more practical understanding of energy consumption than Obama.
Just for fun, I did the math. Properly inflating your tires can improve gas mileage by 3%. Of course, many people already keep their tires properly inflated, and many more are at least close to being properly inflated. Let's be generous and assume that one-half of the total possible savings would be realized if we all inflated our tires properly; that's a net gain of 1.5% fuel efficiency.
Americans drive approximately 2,880 billion miles per year. If we average 24 mpg, we use around 120 billion gallons of gasoline in our vehicles. If, through perfect tire inflation, we improved our collective fuel efficiency by 1.5%, that would be 1.8 billion gallons. A barrel of oil produces around 20 gallons of gasoline, so the total savings available through tire inflation is approximately 90,000,000 barrels of oil annually.
How does this stack up against "all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling?"
ANWR: 10 billion barrels
Outer Continental Shelf: 18 billion barrels (estimated; the actual total is undoubtedly much higher, since exploration has been banned)
Oil shale: 1 trillion barrels