I really should just syndicate Morford's column straight into my blog: Mark comments on the insanely huge progress we have made in fuel efficient vehi

Here are some of the gems from this week’s excellent article:

My mother, she had this car. It was a 1974 VW Dasher …it had this tough brown vinyl interior and brutally antagonistic manual steering and rock-hard suspension, and it went from zero to 60 in about three days, and the engine sounded like a single-stroke lawn mower choking on a pillow…But here’s the great thing: This Dasher, it got at least 30 miles per gallon. Maybe more. Maybe more like 40.

And now, here we are. It is 30 years later. It is the age of the Internet and the iPod and Botox and laser hair removal and anti-allergy vacuum cleaners. It is the time of nanotechnology and microsurgery and quantum physics and “Extreme Makeover” and horrible leadership…Check out my Black Eyed Peas ring tone on my shiny tiny Nokia. Look at my lousy, imbecilic president. Check out my SUV’s bitchin’ DVD nav system…Are we not gods?

I have recently purchased a new car, my first in a decade. It is the deliciously hot little Audi A3 hatchback, just in from Europe, and its engine is simply a wonder and the car is fast and tight and agile and sexy and clean, and the fit and finish are German-fetish beautiful, and I love it like saliva loves chocolate. But one of the best aspects of the car, I thought, proudly, as I purchased it, as I compared dozens of similar cars in this class, was the top-notch mpg rating, and the ultralow emissions (for a gas engine). Oh, my new Audi’s mpg rating? It’s 25 city, 31 highway.

Here is the funny thing. Here is the pathetic thing. In 2005, this is considered very good mileage. This is considered efficient and admirable, even though it’s not, even though it’s far, far from it, even though you look at those numbers and you think, Oh holy hell, we have, in many ways, progressed not at all. We have progressed exactly zero.

Let’s be honest: This gas mileage is abominable. So is, I guarantee you, the mpg your car gets. In fact, when adjusted for overall technological advancement and where we should be with engine efficiency, every car produced in the past two decades gets worse mileage than my mom’s 30-year-old Dasher and that includes the Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid, because the appalling fact is, gas mileage has remained essentially constant for over 30 years, if not worsened, across the board, despite astounding technological progress in nearly every other category of life.

We have the technology. We have the brainpower. We could, if there were any real incentive to do so, if the government had done its job and if they had pushed forth with anything resembling social responsibility, and if the populace had been educated enough to care, we could easily have fast sexy well-built cars that get 100 mpg, right now, today, cars that give off nearly zero emissions, and we could be giving the finger to Saudi Arabia and we might not be losing a brutal war in Iraq and thousands of undereducated U.S. soldiers wouldn’t be dead and we might, in fact, be headed toward a much greener, lighter, less warlike future than the one BushCo has mapped out for us. An oversimplification? Maybe. But not by much.

Make no mistake. We invaded Iraq, by and large, to protect our strategic oil interests, to lock down that desperately needed 10 percent of the world’s supply by whatever violence and blood and dead disposable U.S. soldiers necessary. And as a vicious adjunct, Bush recently signed the worst energy bill you will ever see in your lifetime: $12 billion worth of the most disgusting pork you ever laid eyes on, billions for oil and useless bridges and nauseating pet projects, and barely a penny of it goes toward renewable energy technologies or alternative fuels or conservation, and almost all goes toward BushCo’s profiteering thugs in the corporate marketplace. Go, USA!

I love my new car. I enjoy the fact that, by choosing this model, I tried to minimize its impact on the world, short of giving up driving entirely and getting a bike. But I hate that it is, in the most vital way, no better than my mom’s Dasher, 30 years ago. I hate the fact that, despite all our protests, despite all our gizmos and high-tech dazzle, the Powers That Be still don’t seem to care.