President Bush emerged from the White House on the morning of Feb. 25 to view three shiny newvehicles lined up in the driveway: a tan GMC pickup, a red Ford SUV and a white Chrysler minivan, according to a Washington Post
story by Dana Milbank. He looked under the hoods, poked his head into the cabins, and checked out the engines."Today we had a chance to see some of the best new technologies being developed by American ingenuity," the president announced after examining the futuristic hybrid-fuel models. "I was told by the representatives of the manufacturing companies that more and more hybrid cars will be available in the marketplace next year, and this is good news."The day before Senate debate begins on competing energy proposals, Bush touted the hybrid vehicles as a way to demonstrate the conservationist elements in his plan, which opponents say overemphasizes energy production.The president noted that he backs $3 billion in tax credits for those who buy hybrid or fuel-cell vehicles over the next 11 years. This represents an almost complete 180-degree turnarond for Bush, who ridiculed Al Gore during the presidential campaign for proposing tax credits targeted to those who buy hybrid vehicles.Meanwhile, Japanese auto manufacuturers, which already have hybrid cars for sale, were angry that the White House included only the Big Three, who will not have hybrid cars availableuntil model year 2004 at the earliest.According to the Associated Press, Bush did not mention Democratic alternatives to his energy bill, saying simply, "I urge the United States Senate to pass a comprehensive energy plan quickly. The House has acted, and now the Senate must act."After surveying the Chevrolet, Ford and Chrysler model hybrids on display on the South Lawn, Bush said more such vehicles, which combine an electric motor and gas engine, should be available in the marketplace next year.The president also promoted the research and development of fuel cells that power vehicles on pure hydrogen and produce only water vapor as their emissions.