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Quick Hits: Obama Buys American

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

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With sales down sharply, American automakers are struggling to make up ground against foreign imports. In fact, this week General Motors (GM) relinquished its crown as the world's largest automaker for the first time since the Great Depression. With 8.97 million sales in 2008, Toyota (TM) now holds that distinction.

But as the inauguration crowd witnessed President Barack Obama round the corner in his brand-new Cadillac, sales figures seem to dissolve in the face of such class and distinction.

Little is known about the presidential limousine, codenamed "The Stagecoach" but nicknamed "The Beast." Only a select few GM employees were given clearance for the vehicle's design. According to company spokesman David Caldwell, borrowing a page from Fight Club, "One of the specifications is that we don't talk about the specifications."

But one thing is certain: The Beast was built with Obama's safety in mind.
At roughly 7 to 8 tons, it's fully equipped with military-grade armor, side panels as thick as 8 inches and windows as wide as 5.

Car experts suggest a diesel engine lies under the hood and the body is a GM medium-duty truck chassis. Inside, there's advanced communication and multimedia equipment never before seen in a head-of-state vehicle.

But if Vice President Joe Biden is hoping for a shot at the ride in 2016, he'll have to hold his breath. Ever since September 11, presidential limos are required to be demolished after the commander-in-chief's term so no terrorist can ever learn its vulnerabilities.
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