I am not given to conspiracies. I think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, that we really did land on the moon and that President Barack Obama probably was born in America.
However, I do have personal proof that corn-based ethanol is part of a radical Al Gore plot to destroy the internal-combustion engine.
Fueled by ethanol, my boat went from running like a sewing machine to running like Jed Clampett's truck.
Two weeks ago, it sputtered, barely clung to life, gave one last violent shudder, and keeled over dead in Lake Maitland.
Ethanol is like cholesterol. It clogs up the tiny holes in carburetors and causes congestive failure.
My mechanic does so many carb jobs he bought an ultrasound cleaner because that's the only way he can get the corn out.
The way things are going, he'll soon be buying a BMW and a chalet in Vail, Colo.
Here is a tip: The ethanol industry wants to put even more corn in gas. So forget sending your kid to medical school.
Send her to the Marine Mechanics Institute in Orlando.
The problem goes well beyond boats.
My corn-clogged Stihl trimmer conked out Saturday and is in the shop.
My Echo edger died in July.
"It's a mess, a fricking mess,'' says John, the service manager at Sunbelt Lawn & Tractor, about ethanol. "It disintegrates rubber gaskets. Fuel lines get brittle and break.''
Corn has cost my household $1,000 this year.
I hate Iowa.
This is a national epidemic. Google "ethanol boats small engines'' and see what you get.
Despite that, the push is on to allow even more ethanol in fuel. The ethanol lobby tells us not to worry, that our engines can handle a 15 percent mixture, which is what they told us about the 10 percent mixture.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to make a decision on this any day now.
And there's a revolt brewing, with critics saying there is no telling what havoc a 15 percent blend could wreak on engines. It is being dubbed the largest science experiment in American history.
Ethanol burns hot, which can fry smaller engines. Ethanol is a solvent that dissolves some rubbers and gaskets. In addition, it collects rust, debris and other such gunk in tanks and fuel lines and sends it into the engine — sort of like breaking up plaque in an artery and sending it to the heart.
Ethanol attracts water, and so the ethanol in gas will draw moisture from the air. The ethanol and water embrace in a big old hug and sink to the bottom of the gas tank together. When the engine sucks it up, it sputters and often dies.
Boats are vulnerable because they often sit idle for weeks, allowing the gas to go bad. Fuel stabilizers are a big growth industry.
"The only thing I see that is good about ethanol is if you're a corn farmer,'' says Charlie McAuliffe at Parker Boats.
There is a fear that cars are next, which is why the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers opposes the 15 percent blend.
It is joined by associations representing motorcycle makers, snowmobile makers, meat producers, chicken producers, turkey producers, grocery manufacturers, restaurants, consumers, small businesses, snack foods and the petroleum industry.
Ethanol is not only bad for engines, but it also is bad for food prices because it drives up the price of corn, used for everything from chicken feed to Fritos.
It's bad for taxpayers because the subsidies are a complete rip-off.
Just say no to more corn.
I found a marina with corn-free fuel. On Sunday, I filled up my boat tanks at the eye-popping cost of $3.50 a gallon and ran the engine full throttle for 20 minutes to bleed every last bit of ethanol out of it.
The sewing machine is back.
Then I filled up three 5-gallon gas cans with pure dino-to-go for the corn survivors in the tool shed. Don't ask me where I got it. I'm not telling you.
Mike Thomas can be reached at 407-420-5525 or email@example.com.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun