Usually it's a good thing when a major political figure mentions an automotive brand. Unless, perhaps, it involves tax dollars and automaker bankruptcy rescues, but hopefully we're past that now.

Still, some Subaru drivers may wonder whether they should feel a little nervous now that telegenic right-wing icon and former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has suggested that her followers should stop them on the road.

Subaru WRX with Obama-Biden bumper sticker

Subaru WRX with Obama-Biden bumper sticker

Appearing in Searchlight, Nevada (pop: 576), last Saturday, Palin said, "That bumper sticker that maybe you'll see on the next Subaru driving by--an Obama bumper sticker--you should stop the driver and say, 'So how is that hopey, changey thing working out for ya?' "

The remark has been met with a smattering of annoyance, contempt, and apprehension on various Subaru forums (here, here, and here, for example).

Palin half-backpedaled after that line, attempting to clarify by adding, "I shouldn't be disrespectful; I don't have anything against Subarus, I don't." It remains unclear whether Palin felt she had anything against owners or drivers of Subarus.

The "hopey, changey" line is one Palin has used at events--including this one--organized or sponsored by the Tea Party movement.

Subaru, a small Japanese brand, is known for the all-American values of practicality and durability, the all-wheel-drive in every vehicle it sells, and its World Rally Championship winners. About half the Subarus sold in the U.S. are built at its plant in Lafayette, Indiana.

Subaru was also found to be the auto brand with the second-highest percentage of owners registered as Democratic voters in a 2005 survey by market researcher Scarborough Research, also used by the Republican National Committee (Volvo came first).

Based on strong sales of its Forester and Outback crossovers and Legacy and Impreza sedans, Subaru has broken sales records in eight of the last 10 months, selling almost 40 percent more cars in the first three months of 2010 than in the same period a year ago.

Palin's comments can be found starting at 2:55 in the video below.

[NECN, The New York Times; WRX photo via Palingates]