It seems like only yesterday that Congress voiced its outrage and publicly excoriated those auto company executives who flew into Washington in their private jets begging for bailout money. And yet, in another example of do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do, Congress has quietly approved nearly $500 millionÂ to purchase new Gulfstream G550 luxury business jets to ferry its members around, as reported yesterday by Governor Mike Huckabee on his weekly Fox News program.
The request for the jets came from none other than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi, who has already acquired a reputation for making dubious travel arrangements at the taxpayersâ€™ expense, feels that the Gulfstream G550 will be perfect for those long jaunts that she and her colleagues in Congress must occasionally take.
And who can fault her for this? After all, there is no denying that the G550 is a beautiful aircraft. The specs are truly impressive, as you can see from the manufacturerâ€™s literature:
Powered by enhanced Rolls-Royce BR710 turbofan engines, the G550 has a range of 6,750 nm at Mach 0.80 and a high-speed cruise capability of Mach 0.87. With its long legs, the G550 easily links Washington, D.C., with Dubai, London with Singapore and Tokyo with Paris.
And as you can also see, this is no flying equivalent of a converted school bus.
This plane sets the standard for luxury. Fully equipped with leather seating, DVD players and flat screen LCD televisions, satellite communications, Wireless LAN, fax machines, premium audio sound systems, independent climate control, a large galley kitchen and much, much more, our representatives in Congress and their families will now be able travel virtually non-stop from Washington to anywhere else in the world at close to the speed of sound in the kind of luxury that is beyond the financial means of the leaders of virtually all of the countries on the planet.
Of course, it does consume fuel at the rate of about $3000 per hour, emits large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, and costs a fortune to maintain, but no matter. The overburdened American taxpayer remains generous and should have no problem with being taxed just a little more in order to offset these minor inconveniences.
And who knows? One day, while taking the bus to work, some lucky taxpayer may have the good fortune to look out the window towards the horizon and catch a glimpse of a Gulfstream G550 on its way to Dubai with Nancy Pelosi and her entourage on board. Our taxpayer should be comfortedÂ by the thought that while in flight, every effort will being made to not spill champagne on the leather seats.