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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gas prices give owner a scary Vista

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

With gas prices higher than a trailer park meth chef, Washington’s Republican lawmakers are making noise about suspending the state’s fuel tax.

That should show everyone the severity of America’s fossil fuel fiasco.

The only time you hear politicians jabber about giving taxpayers a break is when they’re running for office. Once elected, they look at taxes the same way Count Dracula swoons at the sight of a pulsing jugular vein.

Unfortunately, whatever the vampires decide won’t ease my burden.

I’m in a pump panic after conducting my first miles-per-gallon check on the 1967 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser I use as my daily driver.

Vista Guzzler is more like it.

Oh, I knew my classic car drank like Tommy Lee at an after party.

Just driving to Ritzville requires at least one refueling mission from a KC-135 air tanker.

The responsible thing would be to drive the beast only on downhill trips.

But I love my car too much to put it in mothballs. With its completely unnecessary extra “vista” window, the recently restored cherry red wagon is quirky and cool.

Besides, back in the good ol’ days when gas was more affordable (you know – last month) it was easier to rationalize driving something that burns fuel faster than a raging oil well fire.

I learned to live with the car’s insatiable appetite.

When filling, for example, always remember to TURN THE ENGINE OFF.

Leave it idling and the needle never makes it all the way to full.

I have also learned to never let the fuel gauge sink below the halfway mark. This keeps me from having to use my home equity as collateral during fill-ups.

I’ll be honest. The main reason I never checked the mileage is the same reason most men my age put off getting a colonoscopy.

Fear of the dark unknown.

But there comes a time when a man must bend over and accept the truth. Gas has become so valuable that hookers on East Sprague are holding cardboard signs offering sex “for cash or unleaded.”

And so I set out to discover the cost of powering around in a land yacht. I pulled into a Tesoro station and filled the tank to the brim. The premium price was set at highway robbery – $3.179 a gallon.

Adding to my pain, I must buy the more expensive higher octane juice to keep the big V-8 from knocking like a headboard in a bordello.

Oldsmobile dubbed this infernal combustion engine the “Jetfire.” I’m guessing this is because when it was made the car had the same fuel requirements as a DC-10.

Many motor-heavy cars of the 1960s came equipped with four-barrel carburetors. The Jetfire apparently has a beer-barrel carburetor.

With the tank full I embarked on normal Doug-driving: A Longhorn rib-run, an interview on the North Side, several trips to work, a dip cone run to Dairy Queen.

A hair under 50 miles later, I pulled into a Chevron station. Premium here was set at aggravated battery: $3.229.

Glug. Glug-glug. Glug-glug-glug…

I couldn’t believe my eyes. It sucked up 8.5 gallons.

This must explain the loud flushing sound I hear whenever I press the accelerator.

My wagon averaged 5.87 miles to the gallon.

Outside of the space shuttle and cruise ships, I’m getting the worst gas mileage on the planet.

There must be a scientific explanation. With a complete tune-up, proper tire inflation, an oil change and costly engine and transmission tweaking, I’m confident I can bump my mileage up to much more eco-friendly numbers.

Seven or 8 miles per gallon, perhaps.

Who am I kidding? I don’t need a mechanic. I need a priest with a gas can filled with holy water.

If an exorcism doesn’t work, I plan to mount this new cutting-edge fuel saving device on my Vista Guzzler’s roof.

You may have heard of it. It’s called a sail.

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