Janet Reno, bedlam and truck bed challenges

Quimby Mug Bayou Florida Headshot
Updated Jun 17, 2016

“Hard Working Trucks” readers posted several comments following the Chevrolet vs. Ford truck bed articles ranging from curt and ornery to Ivy League acerbic to pensive and practical. Politics even entered the subject, though to date, none of the presidential hopefuls have Tweeted their thoughts on the bed tests.

On the note of aspirational politicians and pickups, some of you might recall Janet Reno’s Little Red Truck Tour. Twelve years ago, the former U.S. attorney general traveled across Florida in her 1999 Ford Ranger stumping from town to town hoping in vain for a chance to park that little red truck outside the governor’s office.

Her campaign managers, both of whom were in their 20s at the time, didn’t give much thought to two things (or if they did, maybe they had no success steering their candidate): one, truck choice is one of the most divisive issues in U.S. history, and two, a little red wagon, car, truck or skateboard is probably not the gimmick that’s going to get you into the governor’s mansion.

Out of six stories I read dating back to Reno’s 2002 campaign, only one named the make and model of her truck, and I could find only one photo of Reno with her truck (due to copyright concerns, I thought it best not to post it.)

In Reno’s case, it’s safe to say that there was no truck, train or other mode of transportation on Earth that could have saved her campaign. However, Reno a la monster truck squashing just about anything—cars, watermelons, water balloons—might have helped, but probably not. Imagining the post crush interview recalls what Orlando Sentinel columnist Kathleen Parker had to say about Reno’s speaking style: “Her manner of speaking–no punctuation, no paragraph breaks, no modulation–would induce narcolepsy at Starbucks.”

Most Chevy and Ford truck videos—especially with Dennis Leary behind the mic promoting the F-150—can easily make up for a cup of coffee or two. All heavy electric guitar riffs, sparks and hammer pounding aside, both OEM’s truck bed challenge videos are intriguing and impressively produced. However, it’s their varying styles of production—those paragraph breaks, dashes, or modulation, if you will—that have proven the most interesting.

As sharp and as evocative as some of the HWT comments are, I was surprised to see that no one mentioned the most important production difference of all between the two videos.

At the end of Ford’s stone test, Vince Chimento, Ford’s pickup box structure supervisor, looks over the F-150’s pickup bed and says that there are no punctures and that it’s held up very well. However, the video only shows a brief glimpse of the tailgate during Chimento’s inspection—not the bed. I was hoping the camera would pan or cut to a clear shot of the bed while Chimento is making his inspection, but it didn’t happen. He says there are no punctures, and I’ll take his word on that. But what about dents and scratches?

Sections of the bed are briefly shown later during another scene, but the combination of rock debris and a moving close-up with blurred borders makes it more challenging to assess the bed’s condition.

Pausing the video during that moving close-up helps a little, but not much. The blurred edges of the camera shot, the debris and the small portion of bed that’s filmed still make it difficult to completely tell how the bed held up.

Following its block drop test, Chevy cleaned out the back of its truck beds so that observers—including those of us watching on YouTube—could get a better look at the beds. Varying camera angles revealed more bed surface providing more evidence of how both beds fared.

Ford makes it clear that they applied a spray-in bed liner before testing their bed. That makes me even more curious to see just how well that liner and bed held up after delivering 100,000 pounds of stone.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a steel bed garnered some dings after moving 50 tons of rock. Just let me take a closer look after the fact.