Two weeks ago, Solyndra remained unknown to many people outside of Washington and the alternative energy circuit.
That’s particularly incredible given that a.) Scarlett Johansson is one of the most famous actresses in the world b.) Nude photos allegedly of her stolen by hackers showed up online on Tuesday night c.) There’s few things the Internet loves as much as porn.
Still, Solyndra, the solar company endorsed by President Obama in May 2010, which went bankrupt on August 31, appears to have struck a nerve with web searchers.
At the time of this posting, at the tail-end of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the company, Solyndra was still number nine on the top 10 Google Trends “Hot Searches,” topping ScarJo at number 10.
Google Trends Hot Searches works by using an algorithm to measure drastic upswings in search keyword popularity. As Google explains: “Rather than showing the most popular searches overall, which would always be generic terms like ‘weather,’ Hot Searches highlights searches that experience sudden surges in popularity, and updates that information hourly.”’
But it is somewhat of a stretch to think that numerous web users were all nearly simultaneously Googling “Solyndra,” just because of a pre-scheduled hearing on the House floor.
A more likely explanation would probably be the media’s increasing coverage of the fallout surrounding the bankrupt solar panel manufacturer’s taxpayer-funded $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, which was approved in 2009, apparently despite concerns from at least one White House budget official that the company’s finances and growth-strategy weren’t sound.
Another possibility: The right wing online contingent is doing its best to push the news to exploit the failure of the company to tar Obama and the Democrats ahead of the 2012 elections. As Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)’s Communications Advisor Amanda Carpenter tweeted on Sept. 8: ” If everyone doesn’t know the name “Solyndra” by 2012 we are doing something wrong.”
Still, it’s a stark contrast from the past year’s worth of searches entered into Google, in which queries for Johansson continually lead those for Solyndra, according to Google Insights.
However, there was one occurrence in the month prior to Wednesday’s hearing when search queries for Solyndra briefly overtook those for the starlet: Aug. 31, the day that the company declared bankruptcy and announced it was laying off all 1,100 employees effective immediately. Check out the chart below to see for yourself:
Correction: In the original version, this post misidentified the Amanda Carpenter. We regret the error.