The most serious test for the Democracts since the election of Obama may be whether they can negotiate a deal for the big three U.S. car makers and the unions that facilitates meaningful progress on miles per gallon. This would be something like a good start in the direction outlined by Al Gore.
P.S. See Friedman on fixing a flat,and Joe Romm on Obama and energy and bailing out auto: " if the Medium Two actually use the $25 billion Congress authorized in September for retooling their factories to make fuel-efficient cars, then that money will be going to good use." James Surowiecki says "one of the big reasons why bailing out the automakers feels necessary is precisely because we let Lehman Brothers fail."