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One of the lead stories on the evening news Tuesday was the quarterly sales reports from the Big-3 auto manufactures (and Toyota). All of them suffered double digit loses; slumping sales due to high gas prices and a weak economy. An industry that invested heavily in high-profit-margin, low-millage SUV’s is (quite literally) starting to reap what it has sown… building and promoting gas guzzling SUV’s for over a decade like gas prices would be low forever.

Back in the mid 90’s, it bothered me daily, the sight of more and more people buying gas guzzling SUV’s that got 12-14 MPG without regard for what they were doing to the environment. I remember one local TV station polling SUV drivers while they were filling up on “record high” $1.49 gas: “Just how expensive would gas have to get” before they’d consider giving up their gas-guzzling SUV? The final conclusion: $3.50 a gallon. Well, we now know the true number was closer to $4.25.

There was a joke in the mid-90’s: “Q: How will you know when the SUV craze is over? A: When Porsche builds one.” Then in 2003, they built one. Five years later, they’re still building them.

In 1990, the state of California passed a law that “2% of all cars on the road produce zero emissions by the year 1998, and 10% by 2010”. The Clinton Administration pushed hard to make the California goal a national one, and GM produced the most advanced electric car ever made: “The EV1” (Electric Vehicle 1… first dubbed “The Impact” before wiser heads prevailed that naming a car “Impact” wasn’t exactly conducive to sales). Then the Bush Administration took over and the tax breaks and clear air initiatives of the Clinton Administration that pushed the technology, were scrapped, as was the Federal program. Had the program of continued, the U.S. would of had an ENORMOUS jump on Toyota and the record sales of their Prius hybrid electric car. Instead, U.S. automakers instead focused on ENORMOUS gas-guzzling SUV’s. GM, once the leader in electric vehicle technology, found an eager “war time” market for a consumer version of its “HMMWV” (pronounced “Humvee”, which stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) military vehicle, which they dubbed the “Hummer” (which, as the late great George Carlin pointed out at the time, “a ‘Hummer‘ is a blowjob!”)

The U.S. is more dependent now on foreign oil than ever before, and war in the Middle East coupled with a rapidly declining dollar (as a result of a government borrowing heavily to pay for those wars) has caused oil prices… which fluctuated in the $10-$30 a barrel range for decades… to skyrocket five-fold to over $140/barrel in just five years.

With drivers now seeing $3.50/gallon in their rearview mirror and $4.25/gallon (or worse) on the horizon, the Bush Administration is doing what a decade of government programs and warning of concern about the environment couldn’t do: get drivers to give up their hungry, belching SUV’s for smaller, cleaner vehicles wih less impact on the environment.

On June 27th, Climate Change scientists released a report (video) that said the Arctic ice cap was melting FAR faster than anyone predicted due to Global Warming. Thick, millennia-old ice at the North Pole that melted away during the Summer was being replaced with much thinner, weaker ice in the Winter… a Winter that was getting increasingly shorter. As a result, the Arctic Ice cap could melt away by the end of THIS Summer. The Arctic ice cap acts like a giant “air conditioner” for the rest of the planet, reflecting much of the suns heat back into space in the Summer. A loss of all that ice would mean the polar waters would heat up instead and rapidly increase the rate of Global Warming.

Suddenly, Americans are taking notice of Global Warming and the issue is a key plank in BOTH presidential candidates platforms.

During the 2000 Presidential Campaign, Republican candidate George Bush was promising “a more humble foreign policy”… a country that “worked with its neighbors” instead of imposing its will on everyone. We now know just how seriously he took that promise.

And now, after five years of war without end in Iraq, seven years of (once low level, but now growing) war in Afghanistan, and a resurgent al Qaeda, Americans are eager for a President that will end growing U.S. militarism that truly will bring “a more humble foreign policy” to the United States.

When Bill Clinton was President and the economy saw its greatest peace-time expansion in history, the Republicans in Congress were quick to dismiss it, saying that “had THEY of been in charge”, the economy would of been “even better”. So, in 2000, the country put a Republican President in charge of a Republican Congress and the economy tanked. A Congress filled with do-nothing Yes-Men that bent over backwards to give a war-mongering, fiscally irresponsible boy-king that had never run a successful business in his life, everything his heart desired, and chaos ensued. As of last Friday, the DOW closed over 400 points LOWER than the Clinton peak of 2000, with no signs of recovering before Bush leaves office next November. Where the Clinton economy more than TRIPLED the stock market with record job growth and a balanced budget, and kept the U.S. safe from a second terrorist attack on U.S. soil (following the Feb 26, 1993 WTC bombing barely a month into his first term) for eight years (without violating the Constitution to do it) until he left office. The Boy King,on the other hand, ignored warnings of an impending attack that resulted in 9/11, used that tragic event to invade an unrelated country (Iraq) on false pretenses, doubled the National Debt, lost an entire city (New Orleans), two recessions, record job loss, quintupled the cost per barrel of oil and tripled the price of gas. Suddenly that claim in 2000 that “had THEY of been in charge”, everything would have been “MUCH better”, has not only been proven false, but SO false that if anyone dare try to make the same claim again in the next twenty years, absolutely no one will take them seriously.

Republicans are running from the “Republican” label like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Senator McCain regards suggestions that he’s “just like Bush” to be… not a compliment… but a scurrilous attack that requires immediate responding to. Republican candidate for Governor of Washington State, Dino Rossi, so recognizes the negative stigma George Bush has tainted the “Republican” brand that he requested that he be listed on the November ballot as a member of the “G.O.P. Party” (yes, that would translate as the “Grand Old Party Party”) instead of “Republican”. Yeah, that’ll fool people!

So, in conclusion: people are finally giving up their gas guzzling, pollution belching SUV’s for greener, more fuel efficient cars… which in turn is finally forcing The Big Three Automakers in Detroit to focus on more fuel efficient (and environmentally friendly) economy cars; years of ignoring Global Warming has accelerated destruction of the ice caps and causing more freakish weather (droughts in the West, floods in the East) to where people are finally taking notice of Global Climate Change; $4/gallon gas following five years of war in Iraq has even the most devoted Republican questioning “whether it was all worth it”; and abandoning thousands of poor blacks to drown in Hurricane Katrina and then fail to evacuate survivors trapped in a filthy stadium without food, water, electricity or even working bathrooms, for days, have finally opened the eyes of millions of Americans as to just how competent a Republican Administration really is.

When George Bush took office in 2001, Right-wing hack Kate O’Beirne of “National Review Onliine” uttered the now famous phrase: “the grown-ups are back in charge”. Isn’t that what kids say when Mom & Dad leave town and they get their first taste of freedom? The parents return only to find the house a total shambles and the kids sleeping off a nasty hangover with half a keg spilt on the floor?

On a happier note, one more thing to celebrate this Fourth of July: exactly 200 days left till George W. Bush leaves office. See, not everything about Bush is bad.