The Daily Valet. - 6/28/24, Friday

Friday, June 28th Edition
Cory Ohlendorf  
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
Have a great and safe 4th of July. We'll be off next week for a short summer break and will return on Monday, July 8th.

Today’s Big Story

A Surprising Debate


The Biden-Trump faceoff is over, but the wider debate is just beginning


So, that happened. The mute button-enabled, weirdly early first presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump did not go the way most people thought it would.

Biden’s campaign was the one who asked for the debate, so the general consensus was that he’d be prepared to reassure the public that he was ready for another four-year term and a much better option for the American people than his wild card predecessor. But that didn’t happen. Biden struggled with some answers and misspoke at moments in the early stages of the debate, speaking in a raspy voice while Trump initially showed uncharacteristic restraint in not attacking him.

Biden did get in that Trump is a “convicted felon,” and Trump fired back that Biden’s son Hunter is one too. Fact check: both true. Also a sign, not that we needed another one, of how much the criminal justice system is part and parcel of our presidential politics now. “You have the morals of an alley cat,” Biden told Trump. The whole debate felt like Biden stammered through explanations of policies while Trump doubled down on false information, hammering Biden on immigration and the border, even when he was asked about other issues. And he repeatedly dodged questions about whether he would accept the results of the election.

According to the New York Times, Democrats who have defended the president for months against his doubters—including members of his own administration—traded frenzied phone calls and text messages as it became clear that Biden was not at his sharpest. “Practically in despair, some took to social media to express shock, while others privately discussed among themselves whether it was too late to persuade the president to step aside in favor of a younger candidate.”

If there were good moments for Biden, the Washington Post says, it’s when the conversation turned to democracy and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. He put Trump on the spot over his suggestions that Jan. 6 defendants have been persecuted, something the American people broadly disagree with. “The idea that those people are patriots? Come on.” Trump didn’t have great responses, except to cite his claims that his cases have been brought by a weaponized justice system—something that, like Jan. 6 pardons, Americans aren’t on board with. All in all, the new format mostly worked okay. But that didn’t make it a great debate.

Extreme Option:
With talk of Democrats replacing Biden as the party's nominee, Vox explains why that's not really possible.

Are Medications Getting Too Costly?


Drug prices have risen almost 40% over the past decade

The cost of prescription medications in the U.S. has increased 37% since 2014, far surpassing the rate of inflation, according to data reports by CNBC. Though the price increases have slowed this year in comparison to the past decade, the higher costs are raising out-of-pocket expenses for consumers.

On average, Americans pay two to three times more for prescription drugs than consumers in other developed countries, according to the White House. Making matters worse, NPR reports that insurance coverage isn’t what it used to be when it comes to prescription drugs. Insurance companies’ lists of covered drugs, called formularies, have shrunk by about 25%, meaning many plans actually cover less meds than they did years ago.

GoodRx, a service that helps patients find discounts on prescription drugs, calls this the “Big Pinch,” because it illustrates how many patients today are pinched between the drug companies’ high prices and their health insurance companies’ limited drug coverage.

TIME magazine offers up some experts advice on what to do if you can't afford your prescriptions.

Value Meal Wars


Can fast good chains lure price-sensitive customers back?

The summer of food deals is here. It seems like every major chain is going head-to-head by offering nearly identical promotions to lure back customers who've been distanced by increased menu prices. And it appears the magic price is a solid $5 value meal.

McDonald’s kicked things off by allowing customers to choose one of two sandwich options plus small fries, a four-piece McNuggets and a small soda. The promotion was expected to run nationwide for four weeks, but the company’s president told Fox Business that many franchisees are going to keep the promotion going for longer.

The Golden Arches’ rivals are also discounting. Burger King has new value meal, which comes with chicken nuggets, fries and a soft drink and a choice of three sandwiches. Wendy's responded by sweetening its $5 Biggie Bag offer by adding a free Frosty and even Starbucks is experimenting with deals like half-off and buy-one-get-one drinks. On Thursday, Taco Bell entered the fray with one of its biggest deals ever: The “Luxe Cravings Box” is a collection of its four of its most popular items, including a Chalupa Supreme taco, a beefy five-layer burrito, a double-stacked taco, chips with nacho cheese and a drink all for $7—a 55% discount compared to if all items were bought separately.

Gas Stations of the Future


The place where you top up your car's tank is being reinvented to stay relevant

With electric vehicles taking an increasing percentage of the market, you might think the days of the filling station are numbered. But signs are pointing to the opposite being true. Most electric car owners charge at home most of the time, but destination charging is still an important part of the EV experience. And because even the fastest chargers and quickest cars can take upward of 15 to 30 minutes to top up on electrons, that gives EV owners more time to kill—and, crucially, to spend.

MotorTrend takes a closer look at what’s coming down the road for gas-less gas staions. For one, they’re getting bigger. Have you ever been to a Buc-ee's? The massive travel centers have everything you’d ever want ona road trip and while they’re known for their dozens and dozens of pumps outside, but those gas pumps are being augmented with filling points of another type: Tesla Superchargers. Mercedes-Benz has even bigger plans. Last year, Mercedes announced that it was creating a higher-end series of chargers for its customers, and an initial step on that path was to partner with Buc-ee's.

As for what to do with all the traditional gas stations already here, there are some examples of what can be done. One Shell station in England removed their pumps and the modern update is far more luxurious than what most people are used to. Because charging takes longer than pumping gas, the station now offers more quality food and activities for customers while they wait. People charging their cars can get groceries, buy coffee, get their cars washed or even take a breather in lounge chairs.

CNBC reports that at least a quarter of service stations globally are at risk of closure by 2035 without significant business model tweaks.

A Weekend Pairing


‘The Bear’ + Jono Landolfi’s Dishes


We’ve all been waiting … but, finally, The Bear is back! Get ready to start hearing your buddies yell “cousin”, and having your social feed filled with SydCarmy fancams. Since its debut season, the upstart show has been showered in accolades from critics and become a bonafide hit thanks to its true-to-life dialogue and irresistible characters.

Fans have spent a year worrying about how Chef Carmy Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) would escape from the walk-in refrigerator (and his demons). After methodically building up his support team and tentatively embracing an old love, Carmy’s meltdown on the opening night of his new restaurant made for one hell of a cliffhanger. This season keeps the momentum going, as some critics compare the characters to Hamlet while others say the brilliant blend of “overstimulating mayhem, precision, and catharsis is a special place unto itself—season 3 grills, sears, then professionally plates your heartstrings.” The only downside? The whole show is available to stream now, which means we will devour it, instead of savoring it.

Pair It With


Instead of a cocktail pairing, I’m suggesting you make yourself a snack and serve it on Jono Pandolfi’s tableware—the same dishes used by Carmy and crew in the new restaurant. The square-sided collection can be seen throughout the season and makes for a handsome addition to your own table at home.

Also Worth a Watch:
That ‘90s Show,’ part 2 on Netflix; ‘My Lady Jane’ on Prime Video


What We’re Buying


4th of July Deals


Are you ready for a long holiday weekend? Us too. Bring on the hot dogs, cold drinks and plenty of discounts. To help you get a head start, we’ve pulled some of our favorite early deals.

The only deals you need this holiday weekend.

Morning Motto

The weekend provides a fresh start.


Begin again.




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