Breathing new life into the term "corporate pantloads," top executives of the three Detroit automakers each flew to Washington on private jets to ask Congress for a total of about $25 billion in bailouts.
Good for the news organizations -- here, -- that saw this for the helluva story that it was. I do not see any phony populism in the outrage over this one.
Granted, there are times when a corporate jet makes sense in terms of productivity. Usually, this would involve the case of a solid, well-run company that needs top executives -- as well as management and technical teams -- in efficient motion and can justify the expense on the bottom line. Said company would not be sending said executives to Congress to whine for taxpayer bailouts.
This was similar to, but I would argue even worse in tone-deafness, A.I.G. spending $500,000 on a St. Regis hotel for a sales retreat a week after it got its own multi-billion-dollar bailout from taxpayers. At least the retreat, as bad an idea as it was to go through with it, had a viable bottom-line purpose.
It takes a few hours to fly from Detroit to Washington. These Detroit characters swanning through the skies in their executive jets on a mission to beg for a taxpayer bailout in these awful economic times represents a big fat black eye for the business-aviation industry -- currently involved in major efforts to dissuade government from raising landing fees and taxes and from cracking down more on private-jet security.
I can't wait to see the reaction from the arch-enemy of business aviation, the Air Transport Association, which represents commercial airlines and insists that business jets essentially get a free ride on taxpayers' backs.
And by the way, does anybody know exactly which models of business jets our Detroit worthies flew in?