When Congress sent an energy bill to President Bush for his signature, it arrived in a Japanese-built Toyota Prius hybrid ? a move that rubbed two Michigan Republicans the wrong way.

“It is a huge slap in the face, calculated I believe, just to demonstrate their complete disregard for the domestic auto industry,” said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich.

To Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., it was a “slap in the face of every American auto worker.”

They said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., could have provided the same symbolism by sending the bill Wednesday in a U.S.-built hybrid made by Ford Motor Co. or General Motors Corp.

Riiiight. For starters, the US made hybrids are a joke when it comes to fuel efficiency. The 2008 Chevy Malibu hybrid gets a whopping 2 miles per gallon more than the non-hybrid model. The Saturn Aura Green Line does better – but still just 28/35. My current non-hybrid vehicle performs that well. But the real reason the Prius was used is two-fold:

Hammill said the Prius was owned by an employee with the Office of the Clerk, which sends bills to the White House.

The bill requires that automakers increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent to an industry average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

The Prius, the most popular gas-electric hybrid in the United States, gets a combined 46 mpg in city and highway driving. The Prius and the 2008 Honda Civic hybrid, which gets a combined 42 mpg, are the only two hybrids sold in the United States today that would meet the new mileage requirements set for 2020.

They had one on hand, and more importantly it (and another Japanese car) are the only existing models that will meet the newly mandated standards.

So… throw a temper tantrum that they used one of the few available models of car which meet the new standards, or try to help find solutions to drag the antiquidated dinosaurs in their districts into the 21st century. I know which I’d prefer my Congressman to do. I want leaders who lead.

And if line workers are offended by this, they shouldn’t be upset at Congress for using a Prius – they should be upset at their own management for letting the American auto industry get so far behind.

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  • The Big Three laughed at Toyota when it went hard after hybrid technology. They thought it silly when gas was a dollar or so a gallon to market such cars. They are always playing catchup to the Japanese, who were the first to see a need for smaller more fuel efficient cars in the 70’s. It’s also ironic that an American was responsible for the sheer explosion of well-built Japanese cars. The American Big Three (as usual) played catch up in adopting the same kind of quality culture the Japanese had from Dr. Deming’s work there.

    I wonder what workers in Georgetown, Kentucky, Princeton, Indiana, Huntsville, Alabama, San Antonio, Texas, Buffalo, West Virginia, Freemont, California, and Blue Springs, Mississippi would think of Representative Rogers statements about how “American auto workers” might feel?

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