by Inlander Staff

Hybrids Penciling Out -- Until there's a market, hybrid cars and trucks are just a pipe dream. At least that's what the skeptical bean counters often say about all those granola-fueled dreams of cleaner air. But with gas nearing $2.20 a gallon, hybrids are not just for tree-huggers anymore. And there are some developments on the market front that may signal big changes ahead for the mobile American public.

Last week in Seattle, King County took the first deliveries of what will be the largest order of hybrid buses in U.S. history. King County bought 235 hybrid buses, and it expects to save 750,000 gallons of gas every year once the buses are all in service. Built by General Motors, the new buses boast 60 percent better fuel efficiency and can reduce emissions by 90 percent. Estimates show that if 13,000 buses were replaced in the nation's nine largest cities, 40 million gallons of gas could be saved each year. Hybrid GM pickups will be available to consumers this fall.

And also last week, the U.S. military showed off some new vehicles being developed by the Army. Even when you're invading other countries, you've got to watch your mileage. An Army spokesman at the event in Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage said that the Army uses 750,000 gallons of gas a day in Iraq. New vehicles are at least three years off, but they may include a hybrid electric-diesel truck currently being developed that can even generate enough extra electricity to light up an airfield for a couple of hours if the power is cut.

Al on Top -- Everybody's been talking about the trouble Air America has been having lately. You know, it's the radio network available in a few markets that features Al Franken and Janeane Garafaolo -- a kind of left-wing answer to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. There have been lots of stories about the station's struggles, with one snafu leading to the plug being pulled momentarily on the network over some late payments.

But one news item hasn't exactly been getting pumped up the way you'd expect from the "liberal" media: Al is beating Rush at his own game. That's right, the New York Times has reported (in the 15th paragraph of a story about Air America's problems) that in New York City, "The O'Franken Factor" is beating Limbaugh in the weekday noon to 3 pm time slot, according to preliminary Arbitron ratings from April.

14 points -- You thought we were crazy back in March when we published a what-if story about a John Kerry-John McCain, ticket. Turns out, the idea isn't that far out -- in fact, it's caught on so much they're even polling on it. And a CBS News poll of May 20-23 shows that a Kerry-McCain ticket beats Bush-Cheney by 14 points, 53 to 39 percent.

Publication date: 06/03/04

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