The environmental crowd may yet discover that Toyota is in the same business as General Motors: making money by selling vehicles that people want to buy.
Toyota's vehicles include the fuel-efficient gasoline-electric hybrids favored by many environmentalists. They also include the gargantuan pickups and SUVs with gas-guzzling V-8 engines that get less than 20 mpg and that environmentalists love to hate.
Toyota has been the darling of many environmental groups since it introduced the Prius seven years ago. It was good marketing. Never mind that Honda and Ford also have hybrids. Never mind the issues associated with replacing and disposing of batteries.
Toyota could do no wrong.
But then Toyota joined GM, Ford Motor and Chrysler in supporting the Hill-Terry bill introduced in the U.S. House this past summer as an alternative to the more stringent standards in the Senate energy bill. The bill the Senate passed would require cars and trucks together to average 35 mpg by 2020. Hill-Terry would maintain separate standards for cars and trucks and require the fleet to average 32 to 35 mpg by 2022.
Judging from the reaction, you would have thought that the nice, white-haired grandfather who works in his vegetable garden down the street had been revealed to be a wife-beating, dog-kicking ax murderer.
Green Web sites and blogs lit up with outrage and a sense of betrayal.
The whole we-were-stabbed-in-the-back attitude was summed up on Oct. 3 in the headline of a Thomas Friedman column in The New York Times: "Et tu, Toyota?"