Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Dist. of Columbia) is one tough customer.
Chairing the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee'srecall inquiry, she poses a question of personal and "Congressional" interest to Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda. Holmes Norton demands to know if her Camry Hybrid will ever be recalled. Ever. And she keeps a straight face!
Holmes Norton recalls how she "reluctantly" bought abecause "American" auto makers didn't offer enough hybrid choices.
Toyota North America Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Yoshimi Inaba smiles graciously and tries to explain Holmes Norton did, in fact, buy an American vehicle. Because the Camy Hybrid is assembled at Toyota's plant in Georgetown, KY.
Holmes Norton takes this to mean Toyota was blaming American workers for its recall problems. "Are you disclaiming the vehicle?" she says, incredulously.
"His name is on it," she tells Inaba, nodding toward Toyoda, grandson of the auto maker's founder, Kiichiro Toyoda.
Inaba's face goes blank as he realizes Holmes Norton is not following her own conversation. His mind is racing. Does he interrupt the movie playing in her head, or just let it go?
"I think you will be very safe driving the car," Inaba calmly tells her.
Moments later, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) attempts to frame his theory that the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. plays tough with Toyota while giving GM a pass. Why? Because the United Auto Workers union is strong-arming federal regulators.
His proof? Toyota issued a Corolla recall after a few dozen steering complaints, while Chaffetz's Chevrolet Cobalt was not recalled until GM had received more than 1,000.
Didn't know there was a numeric threshold to trigger recalls.