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A New Lowe

Posted by: David Welch on July 12, 2007


Every so often I get a press release in my inbox that makes me wonder why the P.R. people even bothered. Here’s one that’s just laughable. Actor Rob Lowe is testifying before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on behalf of plug-in hybrids. Getting Hollywood types to flog green technology is of dubious value to begin with. But Rob Lowe? Sure, he revived his flagging career a few years ago with a prominent role in the hit series “The West Wing.” Then he ditched the gig for two failed television shows. He’s not exactly A-list.

Lowe is politically active and may be a smart guy. But seeing Hollywood stars push green cars is a tired ploy. Sure, having Priuses during the Academy Awards a few years ago helped bring hybrids into the nation’s conscience. But the West Coast folk who like cleaner cars are already buying Priuses. People who aren’t sold on hybrids and still drive solo in their suvs won’t be convinced by actors and television personalities. In fact, some people are even turned off by stars who use their celebrity to push their own causes. Many of them have been rightly criticized for driving the most efficient cars while using loads of power to cool their spacious mansions and jetting about in private planes.

For the record, I have no idea how big Mr. Lowe’s house is. Nor do I know his preferred method of air travel. But here’s a thought. Let’s hear from someone who can tell Congress—which, by the way, needs some real help in coming to a smart way to cut our nation’s reliance on foreign oil—how they can engineer some smart legislation to push technology like hybrids, clean diesel cars and hydrogen fuel cells. Gasoline tax anyone? A Manhattan project for fuel cells? The impact from Mr. Lowe’s testimony will be, well, pretty low.

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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