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"This is not a fund-raiser," says Adams, explaining why the Steve Bing-organized concert is free. "We're trying to get a message out across America." Everyone through the door received free, limited-edition CD-ROMs (they'll later sell on eBay for $30 a pop), and there are seven NRDC booths scattered around Staples Center stocked with post cards addressed to the CEO of GM, urging him not to meddle with California's global-warming pollution bill. The cards litter escalator steps and bathroom stalls for the most part, but several people hang on to them.
"I'm going to join the NRD . . . what is it again?" says an Orange County mom and longtime Stones fan. "I drive a Grand Jeep Cherokee. When they were saying it's awful, and it's bad, and you're contributing to that, when it was on the news, I felt bad. You know, with celebrities coming, it gets people to pay attention."
Pulling up to Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, David spots another electric car. "Oh, that's Liberty Godshall's — Ed Zwick's wife," she says. "I know everyone who has one." Then she slips out to corral her children, the only other topic she's as enthusiastic about. On the way home, the kids — one looks exactly like Larry, the other like Laurie — rattle on excitedly about an upcoming party. In between "Yes, you can have those red balls" and "No, we can't invite anyone else," David lays out environmental strategy. The SUV/fuel-efficiency debate will hopefully travel the same road that seat belts, air bags and catalytic converters took, she explains. And, much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving's "Designated Driver" campaign (which transformed drunk driving from being somehow cool to being socially irresponsible), the Detroit Project hopes to create a demand for cleaner cars, so that big business begins to supply them.
Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars, she says, is already in pre-production on a second round of television ads. This time, aimed at automakers rather than drivers, the ads will parody the he-man nature-lover's ideal seen in SUV commercials. So the industrious earth mom, like any good Jewish mother, will continue guilting America out — one SUV at a time. "Okay, I'll reveal this. I've spent plenty of time ticketing cars," she whispers. Then she digs through her purse and pulls out a Day-Glo orange parking ticket, which looks much like any other parking ticket — except for the fact that it's made out to SUV drivers and suggests "biking to work" and "carpooling" in the appropriate boxes (that, and it's printed with soy ink on recycled paper). "I go to parking lots and put these on windshields. I believe in that — one person at a time."
In Laurie David's world, that one person just might be the president of a television network, which is why teenagers are going to see more and more hybrid cars on MTV — Tom Freston is a close friend. Diaz, DiCaprio and Brosnan will continue to show up for press events. And when one of them says, "Vote for leaders who care about protecting our environment," local media outlets will run the hell out of the soundbite. Rabbis will consider speaking to their congregations about global warming, schools will consider premium parking for hybrid and electric cars, Vegas limo companies will consider turning over their fleets to hybrids — all projects David is currently working on. Everything adds up.
When, finally, David returns home, it's still raining outside, and there are waterlogged Post-its stuck to the bottom of the driveway, with "to-do list" tidbits scrawled in runny black ink. The Davids' house, a large country-style Tudor with lush, manicured grounds, looks like the kind of place where, on his show, Larry would typically make an appalling faux pas. Inside, it's spacious, quiet, low-lit and cool. Though not an "eco-home" per se — there are no solar panels, recycled wood or non-toxic cleaning products — it's not frivolous or wasteful, either (if you don't count the electric kitty litter box on the patio).
"Bobby Kennedy called me the other day," David says while unloading kid paraphernalia from the trunk. "He was at a gas station, and a woman came up to him in a huge Suburban and said, 'Oh, it's you.' And he's used to it, he's ready to be attacked. The woman said, 'I just want you to know that I saw you on the Today Show, and this morning, I sold this car.'" David races for cover toward the house, feet squishy from the water, arms loaded with cardboard juice boxes, little plastic rain jackets and a backpack. "I mean, that is just . . ." — she smacks the air like a proud Italian chef — ". . . Mmmwa! This is going to take some time, but people are going to start feeling like idiots in their cars, and Detroit is going to start making better cars."
Just before retreating inside, David plugs her E.V. into its charger by the side of the house, as if it were an enormous, tinny-looking cell phone. "See, easy." And then she mutters, one last time over the pelting rain, "It's all good, it's all good. Yeah."
Related Story: LARRY DAVID on the perils of being married to an environmentalist.