Among other things, earlier today Barack Obama made the case for why America needs a car industry. In his words, the industry is "an emblem of the American spirit" and "a once and future symbol of America's success" that "helped build the middle class and sustained it throughout the 20th century."

But I piece than one element of Obama's automobile history -- something he's brought up more than once before -- has been dropped: The slightly wacky claim that we need to defend the industry because America "invented" the automobile.