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Dano Says... X Files Time Today

Today I’m going to talk about a modern American fable. Together we’ll determine if it’s myth or matter of fact. Perhaps it’s mostly tall tales with a dash of truth, which is a recipe for tantalizing, suspicion, arousing gossip - in other words good entertainment. However, a few paranoid individuals (my Uncle John) believe people have been paid to keep silent or made to be silent by devious means!

What we are talking about is the great conspiracy between the American car makers and the big oil companies. More accurately, I should say the alleged conspiracy. American auto makers sell cars to many foreign countries who pay a lot more for gasoline than us fortunate Americans. Cars sold overseas may get up to twice the miles per gallon as their U.S. counterparts. Why do American buyers get the car with less mileage performance from all big three car manufacturers? Because all three are being paid by the oil companies or controlled by the oil companies. U.S. citizens pay less for gas and will accept less mileage out of their vehicle. This pretty much wraps the theory up in a nutshell, or should the nuts who concocted this conspiracy theory be wrapped up and sent away.

Dano remains skeptical, yet over the years I’ve heard things that make me wonder. If it was true in the past, how could this secret go unrevealed in the year 2000. When we all live in a global economy and information is exchanged planet wide, instantaneously, and in mega amounts via the Internet.

My story concerning the past goes like this:

My father-in-law, Bruce, was a quiet introverted man who didn’t talk much. He didn’t tell fish stories, spin yarns by the fire, or come up with "true lies" to entertain company. In conversation with my father-in-law many years ago, he told me of strange thing that happened to him in the late 1950's. Bruce bought a new Buick from the dealer in the small Iowa farming town where he lived. He was shocked that the big car that should be getting seventeen miles per gallon was actually getting about thirty miles per gallon. Two weeks later the dealer informed Bruce that he was driving the wrong car, one that had been sold to a buyer in France. The dealer said that he would exchange it for another one and give Bruce $100 cash for his trouble. "No way," exclaimed Bruce, "I’m keeping this one it gets thirty miles per gallon!"

Turns out Bruce had bought a lemon. In the next four weeks, half a dozen things went wrong with the Buick. Bruce was a talented mechanic and excellent all around handyman. He fixed much of it himself, but he was strapped for time and cash. The transmission had to be replaced because of thousands of tiny metal fillings that didn’t even look like they belonged there - very strange! Finally, the brakes gave out going down a steep hill one dark rainy evening, as he returned from working late at the power plant. Bruce stopped the car with minor damage by sliding against a big oak tree. If he missed the tree, he would have gone off the curve to a hundred foot drop and certain death. The next morning the dealer called him at work as he started his shift. Bruce agreed to trade the lemon for another brand new Buick. He reimbursed my father-in-law for all expenses spent at the dealership and still gave him the $100 for his trouble. The new car looked just like the lemon and got nineteen miles per gallon. A far cry from thirty miles that the new owner in France would get. Seven years later when Bruce traded his car in to the same dealer, he suddenly wondered how the dealer knew so soon about his car wreck, because he had told no one but his wife and two kids. Bruce didn’t say anything though. Like I said, he was a quiet man.

My story concerning the near present goes like this:

In the early 1990's Dano worked for an aircraft manufacturer. Most of us in the defense part of the company were waiting for our lay off. So one day I spent an idle afternoon talking to one of the aeronautical engineers. He was a grizzled old veteran named Chuck who was five foot five no matter which way you measured him. Chuck had done contract engineering all over the world and he had many stories to tell. Pointing to a current news article, Chuck growled , "This navy officer gets caught selling secrets to the Ruskies and he gets off with ten years in a country club prison while my good buddy Jacob was killed recently by the big oil companies because he wouldn’t keep his invention a secret." At this point, I was intrigued. After promising the fat man all the beer he could drink and all the cheeseburgers he could eat at the local bar and grill, he proceeded to spill his guts. One of Chuck’s best friends from school was a brilliant, but quirky engineer named Jacob. He worked many years for Ford Motor Company in Detroit and then for many smaller enterprises. Jacob even started his own company twice and went bankrupt twice. Two years ago Chuck bumped into Jacob at a professional seminar in Las Vegas and the two both being divorced , lonely , old, fat, and ugly with nothing better to do rekindled their friendship. Even though Chuck was in the mid-west and Jacob in California the two talked to each other at least once a week. Less than a year ago, Jacob was close to perfecting a device that would allow most American gas guzzling cars to achieve a 30% to 40% increase in gas mileage. He contacted his old employer, Ford Motor Company, with the idea but no one seemed interested. The peculiar thing was his contacts at the company tried hard to avoid him. Jacob had worked with these people for years. General Motors and Chrysler ignored him also. Jacob finally found a firm in Canada with substantial financial resources that was very interested in his invention. Before he could arrange a meeting Jacob became violently ill. His liver was failing. He went to the hospital and died two days later. He had sent Chuck a key to a rented storage shed months before. Chuck flew out to the funeral and checked out the storage shed. A few pieces of old furniture and a couple of year books from their engineering college was all the shed held.

Now Chuck was a bullshitter and a shameless story teller. The fat toad did love beer and cheeseburgers. I got laid off four months later and Chuck took early retirement and died of a heart attack within eighteen months, so I guess we’ll never know.

What we do know is that Dano seems to attract these kind of things to him like manure attracts flies. Dano is dumb as a post (and if you saw me) you’d know he’s also twice as ugly. So I’m needing your help to solve this mystery. Has anyone else out there heard these kinds of stories or even pieces of conversation that refer to the car or big oil company conspiracy. If you have, do you believe the source, or did you ignore the pieces of conversation as being trivial. Has anyone driven a Ford Taurus in Sweden that got 50% better gas mileage than it should have? How about a Chevy Blazer in Germany that gets almost twice the gas mileage as the one you owned in the United States?

If you wish, you can reply anonymously. I don’t want to be responsible for any of you running off the road because your brakes gave out or becoming violently ill. If enough of you respond with good stuff we’ll know the conspiracy theory probably was true in the past and may even be true today. Then I don’t know what the heck to do next.


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