Will the White House rescue Detroit?

December 12, 2008 12:55:11 PM PST
Will the White House rescue Detroit? It seems that what the U.S. Senate - and by Senate I mean mostly Senate Republicans - wouldn't do, the Bush Administration will. There was more debate over giving the big three U.S. automakers $15 billion than giving hundreds of billions to the geniuses who drove the nation's banking, credit and investment system into the sewer.

We're waiting for the Executive Branch to dole out a few billion to keep the car makers afloat, at least until their solvency becomes Barack Obama's problem.

The longer term problem is obvious. Ask your friends and co-workers if they drive an American car. I'll bet few of them do. There was much discussion in the newsroom today about this, and many posited that Americans aren't buying U.S.-made cars based on perceptions that are outdated. And that may be true, but it's not Americans' fault; it's the car companies.

Our Jim Dolan suggested that what U.S. automakers need is a Lee Iacocca-type of executive - someone who, like Iacocca did with Chrysler in the 1980s, can get on TV and convince Americans to, once again, buy American.

These yahoos who are making the case for U.S. carmakers in Washington - the three CEOs who flew in on corporate jets while asking for bailouts, then realized their folly and decided to drive hybrids for their next appearance - did nothing to convince Americans their bailout money would be money well spent.

The $14 billion is a pittance of what these three car companies need. GM alone is tens of billions in debt. And just by way of comparison -- consider what Exxon-Mobil made in the second quarter profits - nearly $12 billion. This car company money will be gone faster than my kids' allowance.

We'll have the latest on the car industry bailout -- or not -- tonight at 11.

The car bailout money pales compared to the $50 billion scandal involving the former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market. Bernard Madoff is now accused of running a Ponzi scheme -- an investment fraud named after an early 1900s swindler named Charles Ponzi, who lured in new investors with promises of high return. Dozens of investors with Mr. Madoff have allegedly lost billions. He's now out on $10 million bail.

We're also remembering Van Johnson, the actor. For those of a certain age, he was a huge presence in movies during the 1940s - starring in "The Caine Mutiny," "Brigadoon," "A Guy Named Joe" and "30 Seconds Over Tokyo." Who knew he was living in an assisted living center in Nyack? That's where he died, at the age of 92.

Also tonight, it's one of the most expensive cases of mistaken identity we've ever seen. One of our viewers is on the hook for $21,000 in student loans at a college she's never attended or ever heard of.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Bill Evans (in for Lee Goldberg) and the weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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