One needn't be a mileage-obsessed green to enjoy Arianna Huffington's anti-SUV ads, which are scheduled to begin airing on TV stations in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington during political talk shows this Sunday morning. Modeled after the federal government's ads accusing drug users of complicity with terrorism, the spots are hilariously over the top when taken literally yet clever as a satirical stab at the anti-drug propaganda that Huffington accurately calls "ridiculous and wildly inflammatory." Here's a description of the Huffington-inspired ads, courtesy of The New York Times:
"This is George," a girl's voice says of an oblivious man at a gas station. "This is the gas that George bought for his S.U.V." The screen then shows a map of the Middle East. "These are the countries where the executives bought the oil that made the gas that George bought for his S.U.V." The picture switches to a scene of armed terrorists in a desert. "And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his S.U.V."
A second commercial depicts a series of ordinary Americans saying things like: "I helped hijack an airplane"; "I gave money to a terrorist training camp in a foreign country"; "What if I need to go off-road?"
At the close, the screen is filled with the words: "What is your S.U.V. doing to our national security?"
The spots thus take aim at the unstated moral premise of the anti-drug ads: If some of the people who profit from the sale of a product do evil, anyone who consumes the product is responsible for their crimes. Although the Office of National Drug Control Policy has taken the unusual step of defending this argument in ads responding to criticism of its attempts to link drug use with violence, the Bush administration clearly is not prepared to apply the principle consistently. Perhaps the ant-SUV spots will force it to explain why. That should be funny too.