Congress and the White House continue to work on a bailout for the "Big Three" U.S. automakers -- Ford (NYSE: F ) , General Motors (NYSE: GM ) , and Chrysler. Since one of the components of the financial rescue package is a newly appointed "Car Czar" to oversee the bailout process, we thought it would be a good time to review some of the frequently mentioned candidates for the job and assess their strengths and weaknesses for the position.
Pros: Current two-term governor of Michigan.
Cons: Popular female governors who were beauty pageant contestants when they were younger don't exactly have the greatest track record in 2008.
Pros: Respected former Democratic House whip from Michigan.
Cons: Whipping assembly-line workers not allowed under recent labor agreement; whipping auto executives, an idea that's rapidly gaining national support, not yet legal.
Pros: Experienced businessman; successful politician; perfect head of hair.
Cons: Hair too perfect. Most likely part of a costume to disguise long-suspected fact that he is a robot. Robots have eliminated enough Detroit jobs already.
Pros: Illinois governor has demonstrated an uncanny appetite for cutting deals; likely to be freed of current responsibilities very soon.
Cons: "Car Czar" required to show up for work. Cannot telecommute from prison.
Pros: Beloved car-industry exec from era when bailouts worked; can do his own TV commercials.
Cons: Iacocca's former trademark commercial pitch line -- "If you can find a better car, buy it!" -- seems to have resonated a little too deeply with the American public.
Pros: Ran General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , the largest, most successful company in the history of anything, anywhere.
Cons: Difficult for Welch to self-righteously bring the hammer down on auto execs' perks, given his GE CEO perk list of a luxury Manhattan apartment, private fleet of space shuttles, electronic vibrating giraffe polishers, and fresh panda-meat kabobs.
Pros: Demonstrated master of the governmental "tough love" approach; knows how to fix a problem and not be cowed by political concerns.
Cons: At 6-foot-7, unlikely to support the midget Pintos and micro-mini-Coopers seemingly mandated by incoming administration.
Pros: Box-office gold; handy in a car chase; could help David Bonior out with whipping technique.
Cons: Last name creates hesitancy about bias against GM and Chrysler.
Pros: Detroit native, daughter of a GM design engineer; possesses bottom-line business focus that we are living in a material world.
Cons: Loves Detroit so much that she lives in London. Candidacy already denounced by pope, people with taste.
Herbie, the Love Bug
Pros: Disney-created anthropomorphic Volkswagen Beetle has the kind of charming personality necessary for a job that requires dealing with opposing groups.
Richard "the King" Petty
Pros: Seven-time NASCAR champion. Awarded Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush.
Cons: Under ancient established monarchy rules, kings cannot also be czars.
Don LaFontaine, the "In a World" Movie Preview Voiceover Guy
Pros: "In a world … where no U.S. auto companies could figure out a viable business strategy … one man emerged … with a plan to rescue us all … from a fate worse than death."
Cons: Died earlier this year.
T. Boone Pickens
Pros: Billionaire businessman has plans for a car that runs on wind power.
Cons: Them plans is plum crazy.
Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the NPR Car Talk Guys
Pros: Familiarity with car troubles; good senses of humor; experience at National Public Radio, which, like the domestic auto industry, is a nonprofit enterprise.
Czar Nicholas II
Pros: Has the whole "Czar thing" down pat.
Cons: Doesn't know a thing about cars. Go-to solution of beheading troublesome working class worked better in 19th-century Russia than in modern-day United States.
Pros: Comes with a far cooler nickname than the insipid "Car Czar."
Cons: Inexplicable tendency to throw races calls probity into question. Difficult to sustain masked-man disguise federally in a post-9/11 world.
Pros: Can perform Jedi mind trick on union executives and recalcitrant Republican Senate bailout opponents.
Cons: Management style includes demanding that everyone at GM's Hamtramck assembly plant practice assembling cars blindfolded, with good results to be expected.
Pros: Experience as federal highway officer; skilled driver; handy with chainsaw; looks great in black.
Cons: We don't need another hero.
The Ghost of Christmas Future
Pros: Silent hooded figure has more than 150 years' experience in delivering bad news; calm demeanor.
Cons: Insistence on spelling the word "Tsar" probably a dealbreaker; British.
Pros: Has experience in cleaning up Detroit. Programmed to protect and serve. Incorruptible. Drives the sweet, futuristic "6000 SUX."
Cons: Excessively violent, even for a federal law-enforcement official. Robotic speech pattern will make for awkward moments when testifying during confirmation hearings.
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