Don’t look now but Uncle Sam is taking over

Unless you wandered off the beaten path in the business pages you probably missed this dispatch out of Detroit that President Obama’s auto task force participating in meetings that "have focused on educating the Treasury on the world of auto manufacturing."

This is ominous news indeed, especially coupled with the Obama administration forcing out General Motors’ CEO. The Treasury is sidling into the auto business — Ford, Chrysler, GM, Toyota, Treasury.

Personally, I’ve always thought the U.S. Treasury would be an ideal place for a car dealership. It’s in a nice neighborhood, safe, to, since the White House is right next-door.

Several blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue, six lanes wide, have been closed off since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and no one has really come up with a good idea for what to do with an empty highway. It just sits there.

It would make an ideal showcase for Treasury’s line of cars. And it would be tasteful because these would be new cars, no clunkers here. All Treasury needs to do is string up some pennants and strings of colored lights and start moving iron.

There are three banks on the corner for financing and if they won’t extend credit, the Treasury’s Cash Room is right inside the front door. Help yourself to a chunk of bailout money — it seems everybody else is — and drive off the lot today.

I know you’re thinking unkind thoughts about what kind of car Treasury would produce.

You drive from the rear seat because that’s where Treasury secretaries are used to sitting.

The operating instructions are eight volumes and 5,000 pages because they let the Internal Revenue Service write the owner’s manual.

The body is made of crushed, reprocessed soybeans because Treasury let Congress help out and, well, the growers are a powerful lobby.

But the body is recyclable — you can boil it into a nutritious, high-fiber cereal that’s not bad once you get past its gray, sludge-like appearance — and that makes the environmental lobby happy.

The exhaust smells like hot, buttered popcorn because Treasury, no more than anybody else, can’t get this ethanol thing right.

There is no GPS, in-car TV screens, jack for your laptop, cup holders and only AM radio because, hey, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thinks you ought to pay attention to your driving.

The car comes in two models, the Hope and the Change, because Barack Obama is president, that’s why.

The car comes with a lurid paint job, luminescent lime green, fluorescent orange with neon red trim, because the National Endowment for the Arts thinks you need cheering up in these recessionary times.

And best of all it comes with highly advanced lithium ion batteries that will power an auxiliary electric motor 800 miles after only one hour of charging from an ordinary 110-volt outlet. Actually, there is no lithium ion battery that will power the car for 800 miles. It hasn’t been invented yet. But this is the federal government. You can’t expect it to think of every little thing.