Next Time, Will the Big 3 Drive?

The one thing everybody seems to remember from the auto bailout hearings this week is the private jets.

It just points up how much the media, as much as we condemn grandstanding and political theater, gobble it up when it comes. (Watch the accompanying video for more)

And Rep. Bradley Sherman (D-Calif.) was clearly playing to stoke public outrage. The Big 3 CEOs coming to Washington to beg for money in their individual private jets is an image that would get most people riled up.

It was a major PR goof, as my colleague Mike Huckman noted in a off-the-Rx-reservation post.

But another colleague pointed out that CEOs usually have an entourage and that private jets are really airborne conference rooms. Work is getting done. You can't really conduct internal meetings in coach.

Nevertheless, most people are probably going to take offense at the notion. That's probably why GM is selling a couple of its private jets. Ford and Chrysler will probably follow suit, I imagine.

And when there is another stab at getting bailout money in December, think they'll drive?

Congress can drive free-cars and then have the nerve to blame the Big 3? Sounds hypocritical to me. — David

Perhaps if the scheduled commercial airlines were more reliable and weren't seated like eggs in a crate, they would have gone commercial. — Jim

Lets not lose sight of the real issue—saving the jobs of over 3 million people and support of their families. — Durham

It is a perk of the job. However, they really should have all flown in on one private jet. — Lynn

Why appear before congress in person? Have a tele-conference. — TKS

Often executives cite "security" for reasons to have a private jet fleet. Maybe if you did not pay them $20 million a year they would not need that security. — Charles

Are you kidding me, they're CEOs of the largest auto makers in the world. They've earned the right to comfort. — Edward

Private jets do serve an important function. But flying from Detroit to D.C. to beg for money is not one of them. — Steve

It's hard to count all the blunders the Big 3 have made. Flying private jets to beg for taxpayer money is just the latest. These guys (incl UAW Pres) are totally clueless. — Jeff

Disturbed yes, surprised no! This just proves how out of touch corporate America is with the common man. — Brian

These 3 CEO's run a few of the largest worldwide companies. They are just slightly busy right now and don't have time to drive 10 hours one way. — Steve

Private jets or not. They will get their $25B and I predict in six months, will want more. — Judy

At least a compromise, please. How about "jet-pooling"? — John

Most companies don't have private jets, and they're still able to get work done. If you still need to have a conference with your staff—on the way to a meeting—then it sounds like you're not really prepared for the meeting. — Bluto

The Wall Street execs that got a bailout all flew to Washington in private jets. Why shouldn't the auto execs do the same? — Steve

It just goes to show how arrogant these people are. I'm glad they were sent home. — Lee

Next time they should carpool in a Honda minivan. — Jeff

I am all for private jets because time is money. — Professor

Even if it was more economical and made better business sense to fly in a private jet, PR-wise it was a poor choice and should have been thought through more carefully as to the perception it would create with Congress and Main Street. — Kaara

Where the CEO's really missed the boat is showing up & begging for money WITHOUT A PLAN! They couldn't say how much or what they would spend the billions of dollars for—now that's a tragedy. — Murf

If they can fly to a meeting and conduct work while they are doing so, they are actually being good corporate citizens. — Jeff

These guys don't need to fly in private jets to move 2-3 hours east. The costs are over the top. Two hours in a private jet is a middle class salary for an employee. — BW

Come on. How did the members of congress arrive? — Dave

The problem with these guys and all big business is that CEOs have nothing to lose if the company goes under. They take their parachute and land totally unscathed. — Archie

It's begging in style. Shame, Shame, Shame — Ernie

I couldn't care less about private jets. I'm more bothered by Ford CEO not driving a Ford. — K

..What outrages me is the fact that the UAW president, one of the major reasons the Big3 are in this state has the nerves to show up in his private jet. — Ivan

They don't get it...They think they're kings—totally disconnected from reality. No humility. No accountability. The only thing we should give them is a pink slip. — Andy

I would like to ask Rep. Sherman how he travels. Coach, private jet or military transport? — Howard

Yes they should drive a Ford, Chevy or a Dodge to Washington next time. Then they could be like real AMERICANS. — Bushrod

It's not that they flew to the meeting in jets...It's that they were stupid enough to fly there in private jets that scares me. — TM

I am not bothered by them taking private jets as they do serve a business purpose. I am upset by their compensation packages which are disgustingly high and aren't tied to "real" performance. — Joe

...Private jets can be most cost-effective mode. That's why they have them in the first place. — LE

If GM really wants to turn some heads (in a good way), Rick Wagoner should drive down in a production Chevy Volt. — Johnny

Probably will take Greyhound. — Sanju

The UAW president flew in on his jet as well. Where is that outrage! — FJ