I just saw a license plate border that read: “saving the planet one hybrid at a time.” It was attached to a hybrid Ford Escape AKA an SUV! Perhaps the reputation of SUV owners (at least hybrid SUV owners) has come full circle. From a 2003 article of mine:
There was a time when SUV owners were depicted as robust outdoor enthusiasts and sporty soccer moms. Then as SUVs bulked up and became less fuel-efficient, public opinion started to turn against them and their owners. Buying an SUV stopped being simply a reflection of the owner as a consumer, and more about the owner as a moral agent. In some circles, buying an SUV was no longer a choice, it was a sin. SUV foes demanded to know why someone would suck up natural resources, and trash the planet just to intimidate other drivers with his street-legal monster truck? As the moralizing mounted, the social standing of SUV owners continued to erode. Today, SUV owners can only claim moral superiority over the likes of smokers and spammers.
But I wonder how drivers of super-efficient hybrids feel about Escape owners who brag about their eco-friendliness. And as I pointed out here, many owners of regular non-hybrid cars have plenty to boast about too. BTW, the most self-righteous message on the back of a hybrid is still: “How many lives per gallon do you get?” Watch the South Part “Smug Alert!” episode here.