Fake News: Toyota driving a hard bargain

WASHINGTON (Feb. 25) — The president of Toyota testified before Congress yesterday that lawmakers were obviously smart men and women who make wise purchasing decisions, and they look like they’re “ready now” to buy his excuses about the Japanese automaker’s quality.

“What would it take to put you in a position today to accept my explanation?” asked Akio Toyoda, defending his company against allegations of unintended acceleration in millions of recalled vehicles. “Because more than anything, I want to see you leaving here today as a happy customer.”

Toyoda, who noted in his opening statement that “it’s funny — my wife’s first name is ‘Congress,'” encountered some difficult questions from members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. But at each turn, he tried to deflect the interrogation by urging congressmen to accept his personal apology, which would only be available today.

“I met with another nice legislative body just this morning who was very interested in acquiring this particular defense of my company’s failure to adequately respond to safety concerns,” Toyoda said. “They said they’d be back later this afternoon, but I told them I couldn’t guarantee this justification of our actions would still be available.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) challenged Toyoda’s assertion that he had another buyer, noting a television advertisement that claimed an “Excuse-A-Thon” would continue through the weekend, until Toyota had cleared out its backlog of 2008 and 2009 Mea Culpas.

“Sure, you could get a used alibi. However I see you as someone who won’t settle for less than the best,” Toyoda said. “Feel free to take my testimony home with you for the rest of the day, see what your friends and family think. If you like what I’m selling, then you can come back in the morning and we’ll do the paperwork.”

Committee chairman Edolphus Towns wondered aloud if the House panel could trade in some congressional excuses about bipartisan gridlock, budget deficits and last week’s Washington snowstorm in order to get a more thorough and self-degrading statement from the Japanese executive.

“You drive a tough deal, you’re very good at bargaining,” Toyoda said. “You’d be killing me on my margins, but I really like you. I really want to do business with you.”

Toyoda then asked for a brief recess while he could talk to his manager, who had to authorize such a deal. Rep. John Mica (R-Fl.) contested the maneuver.

“You’re the chief executive of the company,” Mica said. “Who’s higher up than you?”

Toyoda said any request for a deal of this extraordinary nature would have to be personally approved by Emperor Akihito, most heavenly master and lord of the Chrysanthemum Throne.

“Get yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy some complimentary donuts while you wait. It shouldn’t take too long,” Toyoda said. “Can I buy you a Pepsi? How about some Tootsie Pops for your kids?”

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