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On CBS's "60 Minutes" last night, humorist and avuncular crankpot Andy Rooney gave American automakers a rhetorical wet willie in their cauliflower ears. Too many, ill-defined model names, he quipped, have turned the US auto industry into a kaleidoscopic blur of subpar vehicles:

Do you know what kind of a car a "Milan" is? I never heard of it. It's a kind of Mercury apparently. Mercury is some kind of a Ford, of course. They also sell a Mercury Mariner, a Mercury Mountaineer and a Mercury Montego. Who would have decided "Montego" was a good name for a Ford car?

He even personalized his Few Minutes of castigation by admitting his last three cars weren't of American stock (we know at least one was a BMW). "We no longer make the best cars," he said, "and Americans are turning away from them." With not a punch line in sight, Rooney pointed out that Japanese makes dominate Consumer Reports's reliability studies. What, in Rooney's opinion, can the US auto industry do to get out of its rut? "Spend less time coming up with clever names and more time building better cars," he said. Actually, that's pretty much the best advice we've gotten from Rooney since his 1977 rant on ignoring "new and improved" dishwashing liquid in favor of the same old kind.

Andy Rooney: What's In A Name? [CBS News]

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