A collective sense of validation rippled across the Tesla community on Tuesday, crowned off by a restrained celebration from Elon Musk: a simple emoji signaling ultimate contentment.
No, the eccentric CEO hadn’t been named business leader of the year…again. Nor had Tesla’s stock price ascended to a new all-time high, like the Roadster he launched into geostationary orbit four years ago.
It was something more deeply gratifying than such commonplace accolades.
President Joe Biden finally acknowledged to Americans across the country that it was Tesla and not General Motors or Ford leading the figurative charge on the EV revolution.
The septuagenarian head of state walked right though his prepared comments as if they were nothing special. He didn’t hang on the words, or pause as if to make an apology for the belated nod to the world’s most valuable carmaker.
In reality, Musk’s company had for months been snubbed at every turn by the White House for one simple reason: Doing so kept the United Auto Workers happy.
It’s no small secret the president has been the most vocal champion of labor unions to sit behind the Oval Office’s Resolute desk in recent memory; he’s said he makes “no bones” about his favoritism.
His Build Back Better plan included a controversial federal tax credit specifically targeted at electric vehicles built by UAW workers, and this week the administration released a 44-page report detailing proposals to promote collective bargaining among federal employees.
Yet while Musk and Jeff Bezos trade potshots and lawsuits over their separate races to the stars via SpaceX and Blue Origin, respectively, the two centibillionaires are bosom buddies when it comes to shutting organized labor out of their Tesla factories and Amazon warehouses.
Biden’s snub has become a running gag in the Tesla scene, with some posting memes poking fun at it. Other more emotionally invested fans felt it was an outright injustice.
After all, GM managed to build just 26 electric vehicles for the fourth quarter. Worldwide. Two dozen cars was the best it could do at the end of last year, and they were beset with battery cell issues from supplier LG Chem, which led to assembly lines for the Chevrolet Bolt shutting down.
Tesla produced more than 300,000 during the very same period.
Musk had about enough when POTUS tweeted from his official account that the future would be made by companies like GM and Ford. The notoriously thin-skinned CEO fumed that Biden was nothing but a “damp sock puppet in human form,” mocking him by jogging the word “starts with a T, ends with an A, ESL in the middle.” Granted, calling the president of the United States a “pedo guy” probably wasn’t an option in this instance.
Bloomberg quickly devoted a piece to the subject titled “Tesla, Who? Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say It—and Musk Has Noticed.”
The final straw came earlier this month when CNBC probed Biden economic adviser Brian Deese for answers on the ongoing snub. Confronted point blank, he danced around the issue.
That’s when Johnna Crider, a blogger with CleanTechnica who makes jewelry on the side, launched an online petition to rectify the slight. “This is an insult to the Americans who work for Tesla,” petition author “Johnna C.” claimed, describing the “gaslighting” by Biden, Ford, and GM as “petty” and “embarrassing.”
The petition, which collected some 58,000 signatures, then ended on a broader point that if Biden was manipulating Americans into believing GM was the EV market leader, what else could he be lying about?
Motoring website Jalopnik covered the petition and, in a reference to the cultlike status of Musk, subsequently joked, “Tesla followers want their God’s accomplishments to humanity acknowledged.”
At long last they have been.
On a news day when two sitting U.S. senators formally wrote to Musk demanding answers about the safety of his partially automated vehicles on the roads, the biggest news in the community was the satisfaction that Biden had finally uttered the words “largest EV manufacturer” and “Tesla” in the same sentence.
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