Saunders

Someone got taken for a ride

Staff WriterApril 23, 2009 

The auto salesman, believe it or not, promised he wouldn't say "No" if I asked to test-drive a car for a few months while deciding whether to buy it.

See, after former Gov. Mike Easley explained that his wife, Mary, test-drove a Honda for that long and for that reason, skeptics assumed it was a sweetheart deal accorded only to the politically powerful and their families.

That's why I felt a glimmer of hope for the common dude when the salesman assured me he wouldn't say no to such a request.

"I'd say 'H-E-L-L no,'" he clarified. That was followed by a look that car salespeople reserve for roadkill that damages a new bumper.

Ashley Broadney at Performance Acura-BMW in Chapel Hill -- after laughing at my request for a months-long test-drive -- said, "Here we usually offer an hourlong test drive."

You'd have to be loony -- or the wife of da' gubna -- to expect to test-drive a car for months, right?

But the most troublesome auto arrangement for Easley is the one that allowed his then-teenage son to drive an SUV for free, with no taxes, tags or insurance payments.

Forget the car note: If you've ever insured a teen driver, you know how expensive it is. Bleecker Olds Buick GMC in Red Spring bought the vehicle from itself and paid taxes and insurance on it while Mike Junior motored blissfully about, as teenagers are wont to do.

Like you, I'm outraged and have just one question: Where can I get me a deal like that?

Easley most recently averred that the GMC Yukon was "made available" as a campaign vehicle that, his lawyer John Wallace explained, morphed into one used for "personal purposes."

Depending upon how much you've had to drink, you could see that happening. After all, if you have a fleet at your disposal, it's easy to get them mixed up and unwittingly drive a campaign car to the Piggly Wiggly.

That's especially true if you have teens at the crib who only care that it has wheels, gas and a sound system that shatters glass a block away.

Easley's explanation, unfortunately for him, contradicted one he'd made weeks earlier when he said that the Yukon "was a lease car and I paid the residual instead of turning it back in since [Junior's] on his [own] in a year."

No records, according to an N&O investigation, exist to support Easy E's claim.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, eh, homes?

Don't blame Easley for offering a statement that is so obviously at variance with the truth: Blame him for putting forth one that could so easily be refuted.

It's like I tell Sweet Thang when she claims she's got to go out for the evening in her 6-inch, glass-heel pumps to comfort an old friend who's feeling down: If you're gonna lie to me, at least make it a good 'un. And bring me back a pickled pig foot.

A better story? "The kid took the car each morning without me, the governor, knowing about it.

"As governor, I have more important things to do than monitor what's in the driveway.

"Why, each morning when I went down to the kitchen to throw a tasty Jimmy Dean sausage biscuit in the microwave," he should've said, "I noticed it was gone. I figured the dealer took it back every day."

That might not get him off the hook, but perhaps the kind folks at Jimmy Dean would let him test-drive some free sausage biscuits for the plug.

barry.saunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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