Mad Men‘s Vincent Kartheiser is really, really excited about high-speed rail.
“I’m just amped up about it, you can tell,” he told me yesterday. “I’m going a million miles an hour. I’m going as fast as high-speed rail.”
Kartheiser was on the phone with me to talk about the new video he and fellow Mad Men actor Rich Sommer made for the advocacy group U.S. PIRG to promote super-fast trains in the United States. High-speed rail is a central initiative of the Obama administration that has met with strong resistance from some Republicans.
In it, Kartheiser — in character as the show’s Pete Campbell — frets over an ad campaign to promote trains. The spot is a collaboration between U.S. PIRG, Kartheiser, and the people at Funny or Die. It was born out of Kartheiser’s desire to get out and do something to support U.S. PIRG’s efforts to reform our autocentric transportation system.
Kartheiser doesn’t own a car and gets around L.A. on public transportation, which may be enough to qualify him as seriously eccentric in Hollywood’s book. But as he told me, it’s not enough to eliminate his contribution to greenhouse-gas emissions.
“I’m a vegetarian, I xeriscape my lawn, I don’t have kids, I don’t drive a car,” said Kartheiser. “And yet still I am in the top percentile of polluters in this country because I fly 20,000 miles or more.”
High-speed rail, in his view, is simply a sensible solution to the nation’s transportation needs.
“This is just a great way to start moving into the future,” he said. “We need to get off of oil, we all know that, and jet fuel is included in that,” he said. “This is a great alternative. We’re lowering emissions. It’s a more convenient, faster way to travel. Wouldn’t you rather call your buddy on the train ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, rather than not being able to make those calls or communicate with anyone?”
America needs to catch up with Japan, Europe, and China on the high-speed rail track, said Kartheiser. “I just think that this is something we’re a little bit behind on. I just think we should jump on.”
Watch the video and decide if you’re sold on Pete Campbell’s pitch for trains.