Flaunt it, baby, flaunt it!

Lovely story in the New York Times…

Representative Anthony D. Weiner, Democrat of Brooklyn and Queens, drives a 2008 Chevrolet Impala, leased for $219 a month. Representative Michael R. McNulty, a Democrat from the Albany area, gets around in a 2007 Mercury Mariner hybrid, a sport utility vehicle, for $816 a month.

“It gets a little better than 25 miles a gallon,” Mr. McNulty said.

Charles B. Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is not so caught up in the question of gas mileage. He leases a 2004 Cadillac DeVille for $777.54 a month. The car is 17 feet long with a 300-horsepower engine and seats five comfortably.

“It’s one of the bigger Cadillacs,” Mr. Rangel, of Harlem, said cheerfully this week. “I’ve got a desk in it. It’s like an airplane.”

Modest or more luxurious, the cars are all paid for by taxpayers. The use of a car — gas included — is one of the benefits of being a member of the House of Representatives.

There are few restrictions on what kind of car the members can choose, and there is no limit on how much they can spend. But the benefit can be politically sensitive, given the growing concerns about automobile emissions and an economy that has left many people struggling to pay for the rapidly rising cost of gas, which was averaging $3.63 a gallon nationwide earlier this week…

That’s what I like to see. No pennypinching in the Congress. There’s something especially touching in the Chairman of Ways and Means riding around in a Caddy, don’t you think? His ways, taxpayers’ means. Wonder how many legislators lease Hummers? You could get an entire tech start-up into a stretched one of them.

Still, none of them is a patch on Lord Berners (1893-1950), who had a piano installed in his Rolls. He also had a pet giraffe. And a foolproof system for always having a railway compartment to himself. Before the train started off, he would stand at the entrance to the compartment, frantically beckoning people in. It being England, he then travelled in solitary splendour.

They don’t make them like that any more, alas.