It generally takes a crisis to get the American automobile industry to change. In the 1970s, the gas crunch forced its hand. In the 1980s, imports stole its bacon. So it retreated into what it knew best large vehicles with V8 power and longitudinal drivetrains. As in trucks and SUVs. Having been consistently resistent to CAFE requirements (while making some pretty amazing strides in fuel efficiency if you consider that, for example, the new Hemi gets more than twice the mileage of a 440 while making very similar power numbers and meeting LEV standards). Auto industry lobbyist Frederick L. Webber was so distraught by Katrina, however, that when cutting a contribution check to relief organizations, he realized he couldn't donate to political campaigns anymore.
Slate's Tim Noah takes Webber, the president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, on, suggesting that he put his money where his mouth is and work with the government to reduce emissions and raise CAFE numbers, rather than paying lip service to abandoning what's basically his job to grease the palms of the men and women in Washington. Noah then makes a stab at Webber's lack of desire to do actively prevent global warming, "So, how about it, Mr. Webber? Do you really want to do something to prevent future Katrinas? Or, having been designated a Lobbyist Who Cares in the Washington Post, is your objective already achieved?" [Thanks to CTE for the tip.]