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3,000 Miles Away, Obama Plugs Electric Cars

AIG continues to be the talk of the town in Washington. But in California, President Obama just spoke about his administration's efforts to boost production of hybrid and electric cars.

Tellingly, Obama joked at one point about the frustrations he is feeling in Washington, as the AIG mess threatens to derail his agenda.

"I know it's not easy," he told workers at an electrical vehicle plant. "There are days, I'm sure, when progress seems fleeting, and days when it feels like you're making no progress at all. That's how it feels in the White House sometimes, too."

The advances being made at plants like this one are key not only to greening the planet, but to spurring a new green economy.

"We have a choice to make," he said. "We can remain one of the world's leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that will allow us to become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy. We can let climate change continue to go unchecked, or we can help stop it. We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for our lasting prosperity."

Obama announced a $2 billion grant program through the stimulus plan that will encourage automakers and engineers to develop new battery technology and boost production of hybrid vehicles.

His focus on energy today comes as he is facing more direct personal criticism in Washington. In the opening weeks of his term, Republicans had preferred to target the Democratic leaders of Congress rather than attack Obama. But today, House Minority Leader targeted an "out of touch" White House for its unfailing support of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Obama will speak later at a town hall meeting, when he'll likely be faced with new questions about the AIG controversy in DC.