‘I Wish Someone Would Do Something About How Fat I Am’

AMCM Motor Club and affiliated company Travelers Motor Club have been supportive of E15 and the ethanol industry. Why hasn't that translated into more people dumping AAA and take advantage of the other club's biofuels discount?
By Ron Lamberty | January 16, 2015

The title above is stolen from a story in the satirical newspaper, The Onion, about a guy who is disgusted that he’s hugely fat, and is even more disappointed that no one—not the government, medicine or people working at fast-food joints—seems to be doing anything to make him thin. And while I would love for someone to make me thin, this column is about the attitude displayed in that story, not the subject. You’ll see. I promise.

The series of events that drew that story from my memory bank started with a really good deal I got on a used car. I drove it to work to check it out before I let one of my kids have it, but that made me unsure I wanted to give it up. It’s really fast, has a great sound system, rear wheel drive and manual transmission, and driving a stick makes me feel superior to all the less accomplished drivers on the road.

But that feeling of superiority disappeared when I got the car stuck in a snowbank recently. We got some snow at the American Coalition for Ethanol headquarters one day, and that evening, two drifts formed at the top of the driveway coming out of our garage. I got the car unstuck from one drift just in time to promptly get stuck in the other nearby drift. And when I eventually rocked the car loose from that one, I slid down the driveway and was engulfed by a much larger snowbank.

Fortunately, I joined AMCM Motor Club a couple weeks earlier, and I called them to come and pull me out of the snowbank. I didn’t want to admit to family and friends that I can no longer handle my rig in a minor snowstorm. For those unfamiliar with AMCM, they are the auto club that, along with affiliated company Travelers Motor Club, issued a press release last fall, saying that despite AAA’s “warnings” and anti-E15 efforts over the past two and a half years, not one of the 18 million members of AMCM or Travelers auto clubs had ever reported a problem with E15. They even encouraged anyone with a car approved by the U.S. EPA or the manufacturer to use E15, to buy it with confidence. 

Sitting in the car, waiting for a tow truck, I had an opportunity to try one more time to form a civil answer to an infuriating question that I had started and stopped answering several times that day. A member had asked for some reasons and, or statistics to convince other ethanol supporters to join AMCM Motor Club instead of AAA. Hell, that was my best reason—AMCM isn’t AAA.

AMCM motor club costs $35 a year for four drivers, and AAA charges four or five times that much. And how about these stats: Number of AMCM press releases telling drivers not to use E15: Zero. Number of dollars AMCM has spent lobbying Congress to stop E15: Zero. Number of times the AMCM CEO has testified to Congress urging suspension of E15 sales: Zero.

When AMCM and Travelers Motor Clubs first talked to us about their E15 findings, we encouraged them to publicize it. Ethanol supporters need that information to refute AAA’s E15 disaster “predictions,” (not a single one of which has proven to be correct, by the way). I also thought—given the number of ethanol folks who were infuriated about AAA’s anti-E15 statements and other ethanol opponents’ exploitation of those statements—that literally thousands of ethanol supporters would jump at the chance to dump AAA (if they hadn’t already) and join AMCM Motor Club.

When I confidently asked AMCM how many people had taken advantage of the biofuels discount a couple weeks after AMCM’s announcement of its support for E15, it wasn’t the thousands I had hoped. It wasn’t hundreds either. It wasn’t even one hundred. It was embarrassing. In fact, the number of new AMCM “biofuels members” was less than one-third the number of emails I received over the past two years that said, “I wish someone would do something about how mad I am at AAA.”

Fortunately, the tow truck arrived 38 minutes sooner than I was told it would get there. The driver hooked me up and pulled me out of the snowbank, giving me the answer to the last concern some people have mentioned. Service. AMCM’s service worked just fine.

Now, I wish someone would do something to thank AMCM for their support of E15.

Author: Ron Lamberty
Senior Vice President
American Coalition for Ethanol