We were thrilled this summer when Ford Motor Co. announced that its new sport-utility vehicle, the Escape Hybrid, was ready to be shipped off to showrooms -- even if those showrooms were on the East and West coasts, where demand for eco-friendly hybrid vehicles is supposedly higher than it is here. Even though we can't buy 'em here yet, we're plenty proud that the world's first hybrid SUV is being assembled right here at Ford's Claycomo plant, which employs around 5,600 workers. With its gas-and-electric engine, the Escape Hybrid has earned an EPA overall fuel economy rating of 33 miles per gallon. Moreover, in a collision of interests unimaginable with regard to any other sport utility vehicle, this summer's announcement brought together a Big Three automaker, the United Auto Workers and the Sierra Club. That's what really gave us hope for the planet.