A Mad idea for high-speed rail

Planned US high-speed rail projects may have hit the buffers in US governors’ offices, but Hollywood is hoping to revive them.

Not long after Florida Governor Rick Scott decided to ditch $2.4 billion in federal high-speed rail funds for his state (following fast on the heels of similar moves by Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio), two actors from the popular television series Mad Men took up the cause.

In an online video, Vincent Kartheiser, maintaining his persona as a sleazy 1960s advertising executive, plays the smooth salesman trying to persuade the gullible, unsuspecting public to buy into high-speed rail. 

He throws out a few pitches to his colleague, asking him to prepare artwork for an ad campaign.

The colleague, played by Rich Sommer, retorts: “We don’t need to sell trains”. High-speed rail is an inherently good investment, he argues, so it simply doesn’t need assistance from slick advertisers.

“America always makes the right investment,” he says. “Let the government boys figure it out.”

At the end of the three-minute video, the actors direct viewers to a website (madfasttrains.com) where they can donate money. What does one get in exchange for such a donation? Bizarrely perhaps, a bumper sticker for a car. Mind you, the message of the stickers at least makes clear the preferred mode of transport: “I’d rather be riding high-speed rail”.