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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Say No to SUVs

Air Date: Week of January 31, 2003

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We have comments from a recent talk given by columnist Arianna Huffington, cofounder of the Detroit Project. They've released controversial ads equating driving an SUV with aiding terrorists. They aim to make fuel efficiency and oil independence a national security issue.

Transcript

HUFFINGTON: I want to thank all of you for leaving your SUVs at home, except that guy who arrived in the Hummer with that bumper sticker saying, “Honk if you hate the ozone layer.” Talk to me later. [laughter]

CURWOOD: That’s Arianna Huffington, syndicated columnist, ex-Republican and former sport utility vehicle owner. And you may have heard that Ms. Huffington wants everybody else to give up their SUVs, too. It’s a message she’s been touting in media ads and public appearances.

She recently brought her campaign to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and we have a few excerpts from a talk she gave at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. We’ve also thrown in a few examples of her TV ads that have been banned by a number of major broadcast outlets.

HUFFINGTON: I just did a column in which I parodied the administration’s drug war ads. You remember those in which they equate taking drugs with terrorism? And I said in that column, what about the much more credible link of equating gas-guzzling cars with funding terrorism, and I ended with a rhetorical question. Would anybody be willing to pay for a people’s ad campaign to jolt our leaders into reality? And I thought nothing more of it until the next morning I was confronted with 5,000 e-mails from people saying, where do I send my money?

FEMALE: I helped hijack an airplane.

FEMALE: I helped blow up a nightclub.

MALE: So what if it gets 11 miles to the gallon?

FEMALE: I gave money to a terrorist training camp in a foreign country.

MALE: It makes me feel safe.

MALE: I helped our enemies develop weapons of mass destruction.

FEMALE: What if I need to go off-road?

MALE: Everyone has one.

MALE: I helped teach kids around the world to hate America.

FEMALE: I like to sit up high.

MALE: I sent our soldiers off to war.

MALE: Everyone has one.

FEMALE: My life, my SUV.

HUFFINGTON: The explosion of SUVs is a case study of the collision, the collusion between corporate America and Washington. Because if you look at the millions of dollars that Detroit spent to defeat the McCain-Kerry bill that would have increased fuel efficiency standards last year, you’ll realize why it didn’t happen.

[MUSIC]

CHILD: This is George. This is the gas that George bought for his SUV. This is the oil company executive who sold the gas that George bought for his SUV. These are the countries where the executive bought the oil that made the gas that George bought for his SUV. And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his SUV.

HUFFINGTON: Right now, the question is how do we turn this into a voting issue, not just an important issue, but a voting issue, so that politicians begin to do something about it?

[APPLAUSE]

CURWOOD: Arianna Huffington’s latest book is called “Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America.” For her next reform crusade, Ms. Huffington says she is setting her sights on how to eliminate polling from the political process.

HUFFINGTON: Our public policy at the moment is being run by a small unrepresentative minority of bored and lonely Americans who have nothing better to do at dinner than talk to strangers for no money. [laughter]

 

Links

The Detroit Project

Arianna Huffington's website

 

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