Don't Panic! January 15 2003

Your war questions answered

Do SUVs support terrorism?

They absolutely do — and the worst part is that carmakers are getting more and more brazen about exploiting that fact for money. For example, the most recent Detroit Auto Show saw the introduction of the new Ford Jihadition sport utility vehicle. It guzzles two gallons of Saudi gasoline per mile and detonates if you drive it near a government building. To compete, GM has announced plans for a new SUV they're calling the Chevrolet al-Qaedus. A more upscale version will be sold as the Cadillac bin Ladenade. To protest modernity, both models can only be driven backward. In addition, both models come with electric beard combs and sensors that prevent women from getting near the steering wheel.

Actually, the answer is more of a "Yes, but ... ." The recent public outcry linking SUVs to terrorism is the result of TV ads from a nonprofit group called Americans For Fuel Efficient Cars. The organization blames gas-guzzling SUVs for funding terrorism by funneling money to oil-producing countries that, in turn, fund groups like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. The ads' basic notion is correct — buying gasoline funds people who fund terror. But carmakers have a point when they complain the ads only tell part of the story.

SUVs aren't the only vehicles that use gasoline. Nearly every vehicle on the road does. So by the ads' logic, everyone who drives a car, mows their lawn or makes Molotov cocktails for fun supports terrorism, too. If you extend that logic even further, anyone who uses petroleum-based products such as plastic or Vaseline support terrorism. Frankly, I'm surprised that Republicans haven't yet used Vaseline as a way to link homosexuality with terrorism. In due time, I'm sure.

Despite focusing narrowly on SUVs, the ad does draw attention to a larger point. As long as we need cars, we should at least be trying to make them more fuel efficient to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Even the oil-loving Bush administration says energy independence is vital to national security. Why then is the IRS now giving big, fat tax deductions to self-employed people who buy the biggest, fattest SUVs? And why are SUVs excluded from the fuel efficiency standards with which cars must comply?

That exclusion, combined with the SUV's ever-growing popularity, has pushed the average fuel efficiency of new vehicles in this country to the lowest it's been in 20 years. You'd figure that after the Arab oil embargo, which crippled the U.S. economy in the '70s, the 1991 Gulf War (fought to save our oil supply) and 9-11 (partially inspired by the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia protecting our oil supply) that we would have learned the importance of energy independence.

SUV haters point out that by improving average fuel economy by just three miles per gallon, we'd save about a million barrels of oil per day — more than the amount we buy from Iraq. (That's right, we buy about 750,000 barrels of oil daily from big ol' evil, nuke-lusting, baby-gassing Saddam Hussein. Funny how Bush never mentions that.)

Unfortunately, as long as we use oil, each of us is responsible for putting money in the hands of terrorists. Until someone comes up with a way to make our cars run on domestically produced, delicious peanut oil, here are some ways that you can at least reduce the flow of cash to terrorists:

1) Buy a fuel-efficient vehicle: Unless someone drops a 40-foot-high pile of bricks in front of your driveway every morning, is the 12 mpg Dodge Durango really necessary for you to complete your daily errands?

2) Support rappers who feature hybrid vehicles in their songs and videos: Rollin' in my Prius, all the ladies wanna see us, bustin' caps at terror-bitches, 'til my trigger finger itches

3) Use water-based lubricants: K-Y Jelly, good for your health, good for America.


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