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From Mad Men to Motor City, Advocates Hope Web Video Steers Rail Projects

BY Nick Judd | Friday, March 11 2011

Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser and Rich Sommer did this web spot for U.S. Public Interest Research Group, released Wednesday, to support President Barack Obama's ongoing initiative to fund high-speed rail construction across the country.

PIRG describes it as "a humorous new online video," and it is on Funnyordie.com, but the venture from TV's Pete Campbell (Kartheiser) and Harry Crane (Sommer) is chuckle-worthy at best.

This, now — a more homegrown video advocating a specific design for light rail development in downtown Detroit — this is funny:

The group behind this video admits it's a little long, but so is the 149-page planning document it was created to decipher. It's no Chrysler ad. But as a way to bling up the environmental review process for a big public project, it works.

While citizens in Detroit debate how to rebuild their urban infrastructure, high-speed rail discussions nationally are of critical importance. The Obama administration seems dead serious about spending billions on upgrading rail infrastructure coast to coast. Florida Gov. Rick Scott turned down $2.4 billion in federal money last for high-speed rail initiatives in his state, and legislators across the country have taken to Twitter to try and build a case for U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to divert that money to their districts. Last month, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) started an act.ly petition targeted at LaHood's Twitter profile — riding on the back of an official letter, of course. In California, Rep. Mike Honda and Rep. John Garamendi also circulated a petition via Twitter.

In remarks yesterday, LaHood said he had a long list of people hoping to get the money Florida has rejected.

"There is line outside my door of governors, senators and congressmen," he said Thursday while speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee's Transportation and Housing and Urban Development subcommittee, according to an item in The Hill by Keith Laing.

Here's hoping a video contest is on the horizon.