What sticks in my craw is that the automakers really believe they were giving people what they wanted when they made low-mileage cars and nothing but. My family has low mileage cars, because when we had the money to replace our old cars, we couldn't find anything higher mileage (in the same safety class)!! I was astounded that the Toyota I had in high school in the '70s (and most of my adult life) got better mileage at the end of its life than the brand new model by the same car maker.
Ironically, I told the Volvo dealer in frustration that I would wait for a hybrid if Volvo was coming out with one, and he said they hear that a lot... How come the upper levels of the Big 3 never got that message???
Yes, demand the Big 3 to raise mileage standards. Yes, demand they make electric and hybrid cars. But frankly, we should require them to come up with a business plan (i.e., keeps them solvent, but prioritizes paying US back) that includes inexpensive retrofitting of EXISTING cars on the road to make them more fuel efficient (without sacrificing safety and reliability). That's a faster way to both reduce fossil fuel usage, atone for some of the crap they've been producing in recent years, and help the average American. More people will benefit from being able to increase the efficiency of their engines than will benefit from changes to new cars, and the effect on our world (and economy) will be far more immediate.
Sure, you can't retrofit everything, but choosing certain popular late models would go a long way. I think the benefits to the American consumer, the economy, and the globe, are obvious.