"America is addicted to oil," admitted the Trek-riding George W Bush in his State of the Union Address.
This oil is "often imported from unstable parts of the world," said the president.
"The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.
"So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative — a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research — at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy.
"We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We’ll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.
"Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."
The president made no mention of weaning Americans out of their cars and onto green vehicles that aren’t futuristic vaporware, they’re already here: bicycles.
Powering cars with US-sourced fuels may lessen the need to meddle in Middle Eastern politics but it will do nothing to stop car-addicted Americans getting so obese. Nor will it stop the carnage on America’s roads, with pedestrians and cyclists being the "collateral damage" that doesn’t make it on to prime time news in the same way that a comparatively few soldiers in stars-and-stripes draped coffins make it on to the news. And nor will eco-fuels cure road congestion.
An opportunity lost, then, Mr. President. Keep riding the bike though.