cash for clunkersYou don't have to know what you're talking about to drop a killer sound bite. For all your canapé conversation needs, here's a summary of this week's hot topics with a cocktail to boot -- you'll sound sophisticated and smart, even at the bar.

You've probably heard newscasters throw around the term "Cash for Clunkers." The Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) officially went into effect this earlier this month, but its final rules have just been nailed down by the government.

If you're chomping at the bit to take advantage of the program, which offers credits of up to $4,500 for consumers to trade in old, inefficient cars for new vehicles with better MPG ratings, then you probably already have an opinion.

But philosophically, it's a tougher issue, so it's likely to come up over drinks sometime soon. Pick your side, memorize your lines and get ready to impress.

The Obama Lover: "Nobody loses: the environment, the economy, individuals' budgets. So I can understand why conservatives would be against it."
Your reasoning: Cash for Clunkers takes gas guzzlers off the roads and encourages people buy efficient cars. And it keeps car manufacturers and dealerships in business. And you're saving the planet. Win-win-win. (It's already working -- new vehicle sales were up the first weekend the program was in effect.)

Not convinced? Click here for the skeptic's reply, no matter what your party alignment.

The Skeptic: "Don't fool yourself -- this is like people who think they're green because they only buy recycled Hummers."
Your reasoning: It takes a significant amount of energy to make a new car, so keeping your old one may be more environmentally friendly, regardless of mileage. Plus, the program requires that the old cars' engines be ruined before they're scrapped, which makes a lot of people unhappy.

If you're liberal you can also argue that since the law requires people to buy a brand new car (instead of a used one), the poor can't take advantage of it. If you're conservative, well, chalk the whole thing up to wasteful government spending.

The Realist: "These arguments are completely silly since none of us are likely to be able to take advantage of the program anyway. Let's have a drink!"
Your reasoning:
Even if you ignore the fact that funding is likely to run out by September (or, um, August), the $1 billion allocated would be able to support only about 300,000 people, max. There are 300 million people in the U.S.

The Cash for Clunkers program has been so popular that its future is uncertain--it may be out of money already. Read more here. And read about a woman who was able to cash in on her jalopy in time here.

The Clunker
the clunker cocktail
This cocktail is an unorthodox meeting of the Sidecar and the
Rusty Nail:
1 ounce Scotch
1 ounce Brandy
1/2 ounce Drambuie
1/2 ounce Triple Sec
1/2 ounce Lemon juice
Shake all ingredients together. Garnish with a twist of lemon (no pun intended).

Broken Dreams, Shattered Windshields

    Have a seat!

    Better get Maaco. And a restraining order.

    Eeeeesh! That's gonna affect the Bluebook value.

    It looks like a mob hit one of the iPod ad dancers.

    Act like a wiener, get your ride smeared with mustard.

    This is why you should never cheat on the LOLrus