Toyota's pollster protests to Congressional investigators that "testing messages to rebut unfair or false assertions is a common and legitimate research practice and is no different than message testing our firm regularly does for Congressional candidates or Congressional campaign committees in response to critics or opponents," but that doesn't stop Henry Waxman and the Washington Post from making ridiculous hay over the fact that Toyota did so. Sean Kane, who makes quite a bit of money working with plaintiffs' lawyers in attacking Toyota, crows "If we weren't finding something that was meaningful, they wouldn't be spending this kind of time and money. But what we're seeing is that they're willing to go to great lengths to discredit anyone who asks questions about their products." This reminds me of James Randi's line: "They laughed at Galileo. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." (Update: Fumento sees the same article, has similar reaction. (h/t W.O.))
Separately, plaintiffs' attorneys are estimating that there has been $7 billion in economic loss from the Toyota controversy that they hope to recover in litigation. Ironically, almost all of that loss has been caused by bad publicity from plaintiffs' attorneys lying about Toyota products. This presents an interesting issue of Rule 23(a)(4) adequacy of representation given the likely conflict of interest between the court-appointed class attorney and the class.