Wednesday was a busy day for General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre by anyone's definition. He started the day with a trip to The General's Fairfax plant in Kansas to tell the world that GM was paying off the remaining $5.8 billion in government loans five years ahead of schedule and to announce a $257 million investment for a pair of plants. After the announcement came a trip to Washington to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Michigan delegation from Congress.

There was no way for Whitacre to rock a Chevy Malibu from Kansas to Washington in a couple hours, so Big Ed instead chartered a flight to our nation's capitol. You may remember what happened the last time an automaker CEO flew into Washington. It wasn't pretty. So instead of using a private jet on company funds, The Detroit News reports that Whitacre busted out the check book and paid for the flight to Washington on his own dime. Given the fact that Big Ed received a $158 million retirement package from AT&T (and part-time use of a private plane), we're guessing the trip isn't going to break the bank.

We're a long way away from knowing whether Whitacre is as good an automotive CEO as he was a telecommunications chief executive, but the early returns show that the burly Texan at least pays attention to history.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Steve Fecht/General Motors]

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