You out there.

You know who you are.

Driving the big fat minivan.

Don't you feel guilty?

How can you sleep at night?

You're wasting precious fuel in support of America's extravagant lifestyle.

Not only that, you're coddling terrorists!

And here you thought you were just ferrying the kids to soccer practice.

That, in a nutshell, is the argument being made by an outfit called the Detroit Project, being spearheaded by gadfly columnist Arianna Huffington.

Huffington, for the record, was driving a Lincoln Navigator a little more than a year ago before she saw the light.

Her TV ads (which have received far more free media than air time) are tough. One intercuts a parent saying "my kids think it's cool" with a man saying "I helped blow up a nightclub." Another has this kicker: "Oil money supports some terrible things. What kind of mileage does your SUV get?"

The advertising effort dovetails with TV ads by the Evangelical Environmental Network, which ask "What Would Jesus Drive?" (One of those Segway scooters, maybe?)

Fuel efficiency is a worthy goal, just like anti-littering efforts and recycling. But why stop at SUVs? Don't people with huge houses consume a lot more energy? What about gas-powered lawn mowers and barbecue grills? Should people be discouraged from owning two and three cars, even if they're of the non-SUV variety?

Here's Huffington's case in Salon:

"On one side sales of the gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing, downright dangerous behemoths continue to soar. And apparently, the more fuel-inefficient the better: Dealers are having a hard time keeping up with the demand for the Hummer H2, GM's new $50,000 barely domesticated spinoff of the Gulf War darling, which struggles to cover 10 miles for every gallon of gas it burns. The symbolism of these impractical machines' military roots is too delicious to ignore. We go to war to protect our supply of cheap oil in vehicles that would be prohibitively expensive to operate without it.

"There seems to be no shortage of Americans who think that consuming 25 percent of the world's oil just isn't enough. Maybe the next model, the H3, will need to be connected to an intravenous gas-pump hose all the time. And there would still be people eager to buy it.

"These are the same folks who don't give a whit (this being a family newspaper) that at an OPEC meeting last month, the oily group's secretary general announced that one of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy world was the U.S.'s seemingly unslakable thirst for its product. How nice it must feel for SUV owners, knowing that their swaggering imprudence is helping the world's anti-democratic oil sheiks sleep just a little better at night. Call this camp the Bigger Is Better crowd. Their motto: 'Burn, baby, burn .{sbquo}.{sbquo}. 30 percent more carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons and 75 percent more nitrogen oxides than passenger cars.' How about this for a bumper sticker: 'Honk if you hate the ozone layer!'"

"Lining up on the other side of the SUV DMZ are a disparate collection of groups and individuals whose aim is to win the hearts and minds -- and change the driving habits -- of the American public."

http://archive.salon.com/news/col/huff/2002/11/25/oil/

The New Republic's Gregg Easterbrook has his own indictment of the huge vehicles:

"The petroleum-waste trends caused by the SUV and its cousin, the light pickup (which is also exempt from most safety and environmental rules for regular cars, though millions of supposedly commercial-purpose pickups are used as cars), keep American society perilously dependent on Persian Gulf oil, diverting $20 billion annually to Saudi Arabia and its anti-American extremists, and $10 billion annually to Saddam Hussein himself.

"Stuck in the school-bound traffic, I marveled at the absurdity of our national situation. The country was preparing to make war with Saddam partly over his oil, and here was a parade of SUVs brazenly attesting to the rarely discussed fact that American gasoline stations are Saddam's financial benefactor. Every time an SUV or light pickup leaves the showroom in the United States, fanatics smile in the Persian Gulf. .{sbquo}.{sbquo}.

"These vehicles have converted driving from a convenience and sometimes a pleasure into a nerve-wracking Darwinian battle. Justified as a response to road rage, SUVs and light pickups are actually the root cause of it. Can it be a coincidence that road rage started to become a national concern in the mid-1990s, just as these pharaonic contraptions began flooding the roads? Can it be a coincidence that road rage gets worse annually, pretty much in sync with the annual rise in the percentage of vehicles that are SUVs or pickups? These machines are designed to bring out the worst in their owners while simultaneously making them feel that they are invincible. And they simply take up space, shrinking the road and parking acreage and increasing all forms of congestion. Traffic studies show that the typical SUV occupies as much road and parking space as 1.4 regular cars.

"Driving in America has long been leaned on as a metaphor for various aspects of the national psyche. Now, thanks to SUVs and light pickups, driving is a metaphor for anxiety-inducing unpleasantness, petty aggression against neighbors, and profanity-shouting and finger-flipping during routine daily events."

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030120&s=easterbrook012003

David Brooks, in the Wall Street Journal, is happy to guzzle gas:

"I don't own an SUV, but now that they've been identified as the locus of evil, I'm thinking of getting one. And if I do, I figure I might as well let the inner wolf out for a rampage and get the most obnoxious SUV I can find.

"My SUV, assuming Hummer comes out with a model for those who find the current ones too cramped, will look something like the Louisiana Superdome on wheels. It'll guzzle so much gas as I walk out to my driveway there will be squads of Saudi princes gaping and applauding. It'll come, when I buy it, with little Hondas and Mazdas already embedded in the front grillwork. Inside I'll install video screens so that impressionable youngsters can play Grand Theft Auto on the way to weekly NRA meetings. And there will be room in the back for tobacco lobbyists nibbling on french fries and endangered prawns.

"Please understand that I don't want to do this, but the campaign against the SUV is so fevered that I find myself being propelled in an equal and opposite direction."

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110002940

In the Washington Times, Michael Farris goes negative on Arianna:

"Mrs. Huffington claims that those who drive SUVs are aiding terrorists because SUVs use more oil-based fuel and oil money inevitably ends up in the hands of international terrorists. This is an insult to every American family in Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska, and other oil-producing states. Terrorists? Hardly. .{sbquo}.{sbquo}.

"As a coercive utopian it is required that the spokesman demonstrate personal consistency. She feels good on this score since she traded in her own large SUV for a more fuel-efficient car. But this is rank hypocrisy on her part. Why? She traded the SUV. This means someone else is going to be driving her old SUV. Mrs. Huffington has no basis for feeling good about herself unless she did the honorable thing and took that SUV to a recycling center so that the metal and other parts could be fashioned into something she could still use with moral dignity.

"Perhaps the recycled SUV metal could be made into a limousine. I will wager anything that a media hound like Mrs. Huffington (as well as her Hollywood buddies) occasionally rides in a limo--probably a stretch limo from time to time. Talk about fuel inefficiency."

http://washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20030114-90447886.htm Time for some presidential politics. Reverend Al is officially in.

"The Rev. Al Sharpton, a black political activist from New York City, jumped into the 2004 Democratic presidential contest yesterday, hoping to appeal to large numbers of minority voters and gain national influence within the party," the Los Angeles Times says.

"Sharpton, seeking to claim a mantle of black leadership last worn by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson during his two presidential runs in the 1980s, is likely to be taken seriously by his Democratic rivals, even if his chances of winning the nomination are remote. .{sbquo}.{sbquo}.

"His unabashed aim is to yank the party sharply to the left as it prepares to challenge President Bush. 'I am the only clear antiwar, anti-death penalty, anti-tax cut candidate who is in the race,' Sharpton said after filing papers to establish an exploratory committee for a presidential run."

The man wields a mean sound bite. To wit: "Of his rivals for the nomination, Sharpton said: 'Many of them are to the right of Republicans and they've been part of this move to the right. That has ruined the party. We have a bunch of elephants running around that are in donkey clothes.'"

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-012103sharpton_nys,0,6805576.story?coll=la%2Dhome%2Dheadlines

ABC's Note offers this early line on the Dems in Iowa:

"Dean: If you saw the reaction to Dean's Saturday night speech and you still don't think he can be a serious player in the Iowa caucuses (and maybe win them), you need to recalibrate your brain.

"Gephardt: Dan Balz's historic Washington Post story (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15541-2003Jan19.html) -- pushing off a focus group, but truly reflective of what all the national press found everywhere we looked in Iowa -- might be the best thing that ever happened to Gephardt this cycle. Stories are still being written about how Gephardt should/must win Iowa, but he is not nearly as strong there right now as many had presumed, and the sooner he can lower expectations (and maybe grind out a win) the better it will be for him.

"Edwards: Lots of talk about who will run Iowa for him, besides Rob Tully, but the man is due to spend some serious time on the ground and see how many dividends some living-room time can yield.

"Lieberman: If there is a Lieberman brain trust somewhere, one has to wonder if it is pondering skipping Iowa, or alternatively, how to start making up some serious ground."

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/TheNote.html

Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen, who has national clout every four years, says there could be one overriding issue in Iowa:

"We may be seeing a repeat of history in 2004 caucuses, thanks to the looming war in Iraq. They could be similar to 1972, when the early caucuses helped propel an anti-war candidate to the Democratic nomination. Tensions with Iraq and North Korea, Saturday's peace demonstrations and President Bush's attack on affirmative action have put Iowa Democrats in a combative mood. They're ready for a little regime change in Washington, to borrow a phrase.

"Many Iowa Democratic Party activists cut their teeth on the anti-Vietnam or civil-rights movements, and Bush is fanning those old coals. The biggest applause lines of the weekend occurred when the candidates bashed him over those issues. .{sbquo}.{sbquo}.

"It's hard to see how Gephardt wins much out of Iowa. Since he's won Iowa before, he'll be expected to do that again. If he does, it will be shrugged off as no big deal by the political community. But if he loses here, that will be seen as Iowans rejecting a man they once supported, and it will be a hard blow to his presidential hopes.

"Dean seems to be generating the most sustained enthusiasm. He's a new face who is unencumbered by Washington experiences, images and voting records. .{sbquo}.{sbquo}. He is trying to be the peace candidate in this race."

http://www.dmregister.com/opinion/stories/c5917686/20272382.html

While the Dems campaign, the war drums are beating a little louder:

"President Bush stated flatly today that Iraq was not complying with demands that it disarm, and he expressed frustration at calls from France and other nations to give diplomacy and United Nations weapons inspections more time to avert war," says the New York Times.

"Mr. Bush indicated that he had not yet made a judgment in favor of military action, telling reporters at the White House, 'I will let you know when the moment has come.'

"Likening Saddam Hussein's maneuvering to 'a rerun of a bad movie,' the president warned again that time is running out for the Iraqi regime to give up any weapons of mass destruction it has, and he suggested that international opposition would not deter him if he decides that an invasion is necessary."

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/21/international/21CND_PREX.html

But the public isn't on the same page, if the latest Washington Post poll is any indication:

"Seven in 10 Americans would give U.N. weapons inspectors months more to pursue their arms search in Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that found growing doubts about an attack on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"In addition to the public's skepticism about military action against Iraq, the poll found that a majority of Americans disapproved of President Bush's handling of the economy for the first time in his presidency. The number of Americans who regard the economy as healthy has not been lower in the past nine years, and fewer than half supported the tax cut plan Bush has proposed as a remedy."

What's more, "by more than 2 to 1, respondents said they would rather have more spending on education, health care and Social Security than a tax cut, and a sizable majority said they would rather the money be used to balance the federal budget."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23564-2003Jan21.html

OpinionJournal's Peggy Noonan has a provocative take on the abortion issue on this 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade:

"Why haven't our courts and lawmakers made greater progress in protecting the unborn when polls suggest public support is there? Lots of reasons, but one that I think is not sufficiently appreciated is this: Abortion is now the glue that holds the Democratic Party together. Without abortion to keep them together, the Democrats would fly apart into 50 small parties--Dems for free trade, Dems for protectionism; for quotas, for merit.

"All parties have divisions, the Republicans famously so, but Republicans have general philosophical views that keep them together and supported by groups that share their views. They're all united by, say, hostility to high taxes, but sometimes they have different reasons for opposing tax increases. The Democratic Party, in contrast, has exhausted its great reasons for being, having achieved so many of them during the past 75 years. The Democrats often seem like the Not Republican Party, no more and no less. It is composed not of allied groups in pursuit of the same general principles but warring groups vying for money, power, a louder voice, the elevation of their particular cause.

"The one thing they agree on, that holds them together and finances their elections, is abortion. The abortion-rights movement packs huge clout in the party; it can make or break a candidacy with contributions and labor and support. It has such clout that at the 1992 Democratic convention the party wouldn't even let Gov. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a popular liberal from a state with 23 electoral votes, give an afternoon speech. He was officially a nonperson at his party's convention because he was pro-life."

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110002936

And how about these rising British-German tensions, courtesy of the New York Post?

"Lashing out at British press reports that his marriage is faltering because he's been unfaithful, an enraged German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has gotten a court injunction barring further publication of the 'vicious rumors.' Schroeder, 58, insisted all was well with him and fourth wife Doris Schroeder-Koepf, and vowed to sue anyone publishing reports to the contrary.

"'There is definitely no right, not even for journalists, to spread lies,' he said.

"Schroeder-Koepf joined her husband in defending the state of their five-year union and denounced as pure fiction reports that her husband has been spending nights elsewhere. .{sbquo}.{sbquo}.

"Under the injunction obtained Friday in Hamburg -- believed to be the first issued to a British paper by a foreign judge -- the London Sunday Mail would face a $266,750 fine if it persists in reporting on Schroeder's marital problems. It had linked the chancellor to German TV interviewer Sandra Maischberger earlier this month. The tabloid responded defiantly on Sunday, repeating the speculation and questioning the German court's jurisdiction. 'Sorry, Herr Schroeder, but you don't rule Britain .{sbquo}.{sbquo}. at least, not yet,' it noted."

http://nypost.com/news/worldnews/67097.htm

Messing with the British tabloids may be a whole lot tougher than the chancellor thought.