Dave gives Obama’s speech short shrift. I would argue that this speech — taking it to the automakers on their home turf, apparently to some applause — is a big-time deal. The same could be said of the speech what Dave wrote in starry-eyed fashion when the outlines of the TXU deal became public: "The ‘tipping point’ concept is cheap from overuse these days, but to me this is the clearest sign yet that we have entered a fundamentally new stage in the fight against global warming."

Sure, the policy recommendations behind the speech may not be the boldest out there, but can you imagine a presidential candidate giving this speech even a year ago, let alone at this point in 2003? In 1999, Gore was running as hard as he could from Earth-in-the-Balance-like proclamations like this one by Obama today: "The auto industry’s refusal to act for so long has left it mired in a predicament for which there is no easy way out."

I’m interested in others’ thoughts. And keep your eyes on Grist — as the race heats up, we will be conducting the definitive green interviews with presidential contenders.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.