Are hybrid cars trendy enough to inspire a backlash? In July, the state of Virginia changed a law that had exempted drivers of the green vehicles from some carpool-lane rules, a perk officials say was "contributing to the eroding performance" on two local highways. Similar concerns were the subject of a CNN segment on "hybrid hate" that aired earlier this year. At least one of its star witnesses, a Cadillac Escalade driver who couldn't understand why his pricey ride didn't guarantee equivalent privileges, could have stepped out of a South Park episode.
"Smug Alert!" saw residents of the cartoon town snapping up hybrid "Piouses" and feeling good about themselves--until they learned they were creating toxic clouds of "smug" that could destroy their home. "Look, hybrid cars are important. They may even save our planet one day," a character explained. "What you all need to do is just learn to drive hybrids and not be smug about it." Though the townspeople weren't up to the challenge, environmentalists would rather fight smug than smog any day.