Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Debate On Fox News Teases Political Sea Change

If you find it ironic that Fox News icon Bill O’Reilly is arguing for the common good, citing in part environmental benefits of electric cars, you might enjoy this clash of conservatives brought to our attention by market commentator Josh Brown.

Conservative talk show host oddly argues in favor of environment  

In his nightly talk show, O’Reilly found himself in the unusual position of defending the government’s investment in Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) against fellow network commentator Eric Boling.

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It’s interesting to watch this debate because it doesn’t fit neatly into the predictable and often boring traditional right / left, conservative / liberal dialogue, a point Brown alluded to in a blog post and the topic of a new book by Ralph Nader that says factions from both the right and left are re-defining political lines.

Tesla: First car not powered by gasoline to receive Motor Trend car of the year

The segment begins by noting that for the first time in its history, Motor Trend awarded its car of the year award to a vehicle that didn’t have a gas engine.  O’Reilly points out Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s business model, even though the car is expensive now, could be a game changer if mass produced.  “If the air in Denver, New York, LA is cleaner,” Tesla has a significant value, O’Reilly said. “The Tesla is a ground zero non-polluter.  If everyone drove (a Tesla) the air would be cleaner in the country.”

It is here that Boling argues with O’Reilly that the electricity produces pollution from coal and “oil fired” electricity.  On average pollution from electricity is much less mile per mile than that produced by a car.  But never mind the facts, Boling continued with his rant, interrupting O’Reilly except when red meat conservative issues were put on the table.

“Do you like Opec?” O’Reilly asked.  “Do you like Putin?”

“No,” was Boling’s to Opec, but he was less sure of Putin.

If the country is strengthened, O’Reilly reasoned, and if the bad guys such as Opec and Putin are hurt – all while helping the economy – this is the definition of a win-win situation.

Boling’s argument is the government is still paying a subsidy to every Tesla owner of between $7,500 to $15,000 in tax rebates, on top of loaning the company $500 million to get off the ground, to which O’Reilly consistently said “the loan was repaid.”

“The lesson is here is not to get too caught up in any political affiliation – especially not to the point where it becomes a religion for you,” Brown said in a blog post reflecting on the somewhat bizarre exchange.  “Stay intellectually loose.”

Ralph Nader, in his book Unstoppable, tells a similar story about “how an emerging right / left alliance will change the corporate state.”  Watching the O’Reilly debate couldn’t help but remind one that a change in the tired right / left political argument could be emerging.

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Mark Melin is an alternative investment practitioner whose specialty is recognizing a trading program’s strategy and mapping it to a market environment and performance driver. He provides analysis of managed futures investment performance and commentary regarding related managed futures market environment. A portfolio and industry consultant, he was an adjunct instructor in managed futures at Northwestern University / Chicago and has written or edited three books, including High Performance Managed Futures (Wiley 2010) and The Chicago Board of Trade’s Handbook of Futures and Options (McGraw-Hill 2008). Mark was director of the managed futures division at Alaron Trading until they were acquired by Peregrine Financial Group in 2009, where he was a registered associated person (National Futures Association NFA ID#: 0348336). Mark has also worked as a Commodity Trading Advisor himself, trading a short volatility options portfolio across the yield curve, and was an independent consultant to various broker dealers and futures exchanges, including OneChicago, the single stock futures exchange, and the Chicago Board of Trade. He is also Editor, Opalesque Futures Intelligence and Editor, Opalesque Futures Strategies. - Contact: Mmelin(at)valuewalk.com