While all eyes were fixed on the banking bail-out, a bucketload of public money was quietly sloshed into the pockets of another undeserving cause.

Last week, George Bush agreed to lend $25bn to US car manufacturers. It’s a soft loan, which will cost the government $7.5bn(1). Few people noticed; fewer fought it.

The House of Representatives approved the measure by 370 votes to 58. The great corporate bail-out is spreading like the plague. It has already crossed the Atlantic.

Yesterday European car makers demanded that the EU hand them E40bn ($54bn) in cheap loans to match the US subsidy(2). Where will the public spending spree end?