I was chatting the other day with Jack Hidary, chair of SmartTransportation.org, about the "cash for clunkers" bill he’s been pushing up on the Hill (watch him debate the bill with all-purpose dumbass Patrick Michaels here).

On balance I’m a big fan of the idea — offering vouchers toward the purchase of new fuel-efficient cars or transit passes to those who turn in old gas guzzlers — though there are reasons for caution, well-described by Rob Inglis here. After all, there’s a lot of energy and emissions involved in manufacturing new cars. Would removing the oldest of the gas guzzlers still be a net economic and climate gain? It’s a subject worth investigating and debating.

You know what isn’t worth investigating or debating? You know what policy would absolutely, certainly, no-doubt-about-it suck from both an economic and climate perspective? Just giving people tax money to buy new cars, with no restrictions. You know, just to get more cars made and sold and on the road.

Naturally, the Senate is taking the latter route.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

We are ruled by idiots.