Posted by: Ticktock | April 16, 2009

Obama Bans Black Cars?

Today, my mother-in-law told me that Obama wants to ban black cars because they are not energy efficient. “Really?” I said, “that doesn’t sound right at all.”

It wasn’t right. At all. She heard it on Rush Limbaugh, that bloated canker sore of humanity. I know this because when I google “Obama bans black cars”, I get all kinds of foaming-at-the-mouth right wing cranks talking about what they heard on Limbaugh.  So, I checked out the transcript of his radio show, and it’s obviously just another ridiculous smear that tries to tie Obama to random comments made by members of the California Air Resources Board.  Of course, CARB doesn’t want to remove black as an option for all cars, not even all California cars, but Rush says it’s true so it must be right.

The truth is that they were bouncing around ideas for a more reflective paint.  The idea, whether it was good or not, was to reduce some of the carbon dioxide emissions by cooling off the internal temperature of the car and lessening the need for air conditioning.  Somebody at a meeting mentioned that “jet black” would be a problem because it absorbs too much light, and CARB later admitted this was an issue.  Eventually, CARB decided that the technology for solar reflective paint would not be “cost effective” and dismissed the idea.  At no point did CARB ever actually suggest banning a certain color of car.  You can read all this at snopes.

I can’t stand hearing political propaganda from my in-laws.  It really puts me in a situation where I have to choose between challenging them (bad for relations) or letting them stay misinformed (bad for the world).  What should I do?  Help.



  1. My m-i-l is a fairly open-minded person, if not terribly interested in politics, but her husband is a right-winger, and she often asks me and my partner for confirmation on something relayed by Rush and crew. My favorite, during the election, was “Is Hilary really a Scientologist?” What? Are you kidding me?

    I’m lucky that in our family we just don’t discuss things we know we’ll disagree on. I don’t think there’s much to be gained in fighting with them, though. As frustrating as it is, it’s probably best to take the high road. And then set the grandkids straight later. 🙂

  2. I can’t wait. We’re seeing my inlaws this weekend. My wife keeps begging me to be nice, but I don’t think my tongue can take that much biting.

  3. I have no solution, but I know how you feel…

    I was driving with my 7-year-old daughter to a Father-Daughter dance, and she said that her best friend (the daughter of Conservative Christians™) told her that Obama wants to kill babies.

    So I had to quickly explain abortion, what it means, why it’s not inherently evil, why it’s a logical (but unfortunate) choice in some situations, why her friend’s parents think what they do, and so on.

    And THEN I had to explain to her why I was always taught that you don’t discuss politics or religion in polite company. Basically the same conundrum you have with your in-laws – just at an elementary school level.

  4. Very simple, point them to Snopes. I personally would say “Oh, well, you know Rush lies about basically everything so you might want to check with at least one or two credible sources before repeating anything you hear from him.” But that’s me.

  5. Thanks for the link. I’ve been trying to think of positive contributions made to the world by Limbaugh’s work (everyone needs a hobby). I’ve failed. Can you think of any?


  6. I agree w/Rev Matt. I’d roll my eyes, with an “I doubt it” and send them the snopes link. They’ll check it or they won’t but I think that’s all you can do.

  7. Some people in my family equate Obama to Hitler. It’s just so extreme it’s silly. I’m not sure you can do much other than say, “that’s not what I heard.” I’ve asked politely “Can you find a mainstream media source to confirm X?”

    So much information floated around about Obama during the campaign and I’m sorry to hear it’s still going.

  8. It’s appropriate that this would be on snopes, as it follows the same psychological phenomenon: people want to believe wacky things because they get off on the drama of it. It’s like making yourself itch in order to enjoy the scratch.

    So, telling them the truth won’t satisfy them. It will take the drama away, and you’ll not be thanked for it.

    Try to give them dramatic truths and see if those choke out the weeds (the dramatic lies) over time.

  9. I approach any random subject my parents or in-laws throw at me as a question. So when I find the evidence to the contrary of their claim, I can e-mail it, or mention it in our next conversation as the answer to their question.
    “Oh, I found the answer to that question you asked me about concerning vaccines!” That way they can feel like i’m answering something they wanted to know, without feeling like i’m lecturing them. That’s how i’ve had to approach it. So far it seems to be working.

  10. I find it fun (but I’m weird) to go one better on statements like that. E.g., “It’s not just black cars, he also plans to outlaw convertibles, automatic transmissions, and plaid seat covers. Didn’t you hear?”

    Sometimes, if you make it outlandish enough, people will realize that their initial belief was pretty outlandish as well.

  11. You all understand that Limbaugh does satire, right? Sometimes it is tricky…

    This is old stuff, but what CARB had effectively done (or was considering) was mandate a certain reflectivity in automotive paints. No black paint currently meets that standard.

    Argue semantics if you like, but that’s a “ban”.

    I included some specifics about it here.

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