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Speaker caught ditching hydrogen car for SUV immediately after leaving photo-op

Published: Friday April 28, 2006

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The Associated Press has photographed Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) ditching his brightly colored hydrogen automobile in favor of a gas-guzzling black SUV after exiting a news conference and photo opportunity at a Washington, DC gas station.

After the conference, which addressed high gas prices, Hastert and other Congressmen had been carted away in fuel saving and alternatively powered automobiles. Just blocks away from the scene, Hastert was photographed ditching his in favor of his usual official car.

For security purposes, congressional leaders' official cars are required to be armored, limiting their choices in those respects mostly to vans or SUVs. Time magazine reported in December that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has searched unsuccessfully for a suitably armored hybrid.

The conference reportedly took place just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol to which Hastert was returning, making the motivations behind the car switch-off all the more puzzling.

Hastert is not the only Congressman to have made "the switch" in the middle of the very short trip, according to the Associated Press, which has thus far named no other perpetrators.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story did not include information about security requirements for Congressional automobiles.