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Will Paris Hilton's energy plan work?

The blonde socialite laid out her plan for energy independence Monday. How good is it?

By Blogger for The Christian Science Monitor / August 6, 2008

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As you probably know by now, the 2008 US presidential campaign became a three-way race Tuesday, as Paris Hilton, irked by John McCain's use of her image as electoral fodder, threw her hat in the ring.

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Ms. Hilton declared her candidacy on comedian Will Ferrell's website, Funny or Die. The video shows the blonde socialite lounging by a pool in a leopard-print swimsuit and high heels at her home in the Hamptons as she announces that she is, "Like, totally ready to lead." After pausing briefly to finish reading an article in Condé Nast Traveller on where to fly to to get the best tan, Hilton outlines her energy policy:

Barack wants to focus on new technologies to cut foreign-oil dependency, and McCain wants offshore drilling. Well, why don't we do a hybrid of both candidates' ideas? We can do limited offshore drilling with strict environmental oversight, while creating tax incentives to get Detroit making hybrid and electric cars. That way, the offshore drilling carries us until the new technologies kick in, which will then create new jobs and energy independence. Energy crisis solved.

(Apparently, she recited all this without cue cards.)

Assuming that Hilton wins the election, that the Constitutional presidential age requirement is amended so that she can serve, and that she is able to carry out her plan, will it work?

It all depends on timing. For the Hilton Plan to succeed in weaning America off foreign oil, we would need to see significant gains from offshore drilling before most of the US auto fleet could be converted to hybrid and electric cars.

So let's say that President Hilton succeeded in pushing through a package of generous tax incentives and stringent fuel-efficiency standards that made it so that, within five years of her inauguration, we have boosted the fuel-efficiency of the average new car and light truck to 35 miles per gallon (a 2007 bill signed into law by President Bush has mandated the same thing by 2020, so it wouldn't be a huge stretch to say that, given the political will, we could get there by 2014).

According to Bureau of Transportation statistics, the average passenger car gets 22.4 miles per gallon, and the average light truck gets 18 m.p.g. In the past decade roughly half of new car sales have been light trucks, so let's say that we've currently got an average fuel efficiency of about 20 m.p.g. That means that, if all cars on the road got 35 miles per gallon, then we'd see a 75 percent boost in our average fuel efficiency.

Currently America's 250 million or so autos account for about half of US oil consumption, which, according to the Central Intelligence Agency, is a little over 20 million barrels per day, with about 8 million produced domestically. So if we engineered our entire auto fleet to achieve an average of 35 m.p.g., we could probably get that down to about 12 or 13 million barrels a day.

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