Recently U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton came to Aspen to speak to his Republican supporters here. He said that he drove an F150, and that that wasn’t even his biggest truck. And then he lamented the fact that it cost $78 to fill his tank halfway. And so we should drill for more oil in the US.

When I heard, that I wondered both what he was trying to say, and what people thought of it. Do Republicans, even tea partiers, like to flaunt how unthrifty they are, or how much of  America’s resources they use? No Republican president from TR to Nixon to Bush and Reagan would agree with that, and my Grandpa Joe, may he rest in peace, sure wouldn’t either. He was a rock-ribbed Republican who voted for Goldwater, but he was also the kind of guy who kept his pants until they wore out. He also didn’t complain, and didn’t like me to complain, price at the pump notwithstanding.

Was Tipton touting his wealth? That’s not very Republican.  Was he saying that we should be able to do what we want here, as long as we can find enough oil? That’s an interesting point, though it’s factually wrong: we know where the global oil reserves are, and we couldn’t possible produced enough oil in the US to change the pump price, and we definitely couldn’t do anything at all in the next decade. And yet we know that marginally increasing fuel efficiency in the U.S. fleet can displace vast amounts of oil, even all we get from the middle east, while adding money to people’s pockets, a deeply Republican idea. I thought traditional Republicans were realists.

I guess what I’m getting at: Did the audience laugh at his comment that the F150 wasn’t even his biggest truck, or were they actually revolted by it, because it had nothing to do with what America wants in its leadership, and nothing to do with what conservatism stands for?

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What if Tipton had said: “I have an F150 for ranch type work, but I actually drove a Chevy Cruze to this meeting to save money, protect America’s resources and security, support the burgeoning clean carmakers in the U.S….and it’s a sportier ride. I drove fast. With the extra money in my pocket, I think I’ll go out to lunch in Aspen, and help your economy.”  I think the Tea Partiers might have LOVED that.

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