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Nissan Leaf replaces Lance Armstrong with bear

A new TV ad for the Nissan Leaf, launching in Thursday's NFL season debut, offers the idea that polar bears, sad that their home is melting, want to thank humans for driving a Leaf.

We all want to save the world. It's just that some want to save it for longer than others.

So along comes the Nissan Leaf, the 100 percent electric car that tries to persuade us that the world is worth preserving for more than just the next few years. How does it do that? By proving that the Leaf makes polar bears extremely happy.

How would I know? Well, please feast upon the new Leaf ad that is set to launch in Thursday's exciting NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and a team from the Midwest quarterbacked by an aging diva. (No, not Madonna. She knows when to stop. Hopefully.)

Because the Leaf will save the world, it asks you to believe that all the world's inhabitants will rejoice--even the polar bears.

You see, the bears' home is melting away. Yes, this sad destruction may have been partly caused by fumes emerging from old car factories, but now humanity has come to its senses.

It is producing Nissan Leafs. And the bears are so pleased about this that they just want to swim over to each and every one of us to hug us and say thank you.

This new ad replaces one in which Lance Armstrong told us how delighted he was to be riding his bicycle behind a Leaf rather than, say, a nasty old BMW. Or a Nissan Titan.

Perhaps Armstrong doesn't quite tug at the tear ducts like a polar bear. Or perhaps a polar bear will never be accused of doing naughty things at the Tour de France.

Still, even before one has experienced the innards of a Leaf, it does carry with it one advantage: it is not a Toyota Prius, the Official Car of the Sanctimonious Party.

If you've ever driven a Prius, you'll know what it is to drive a golf cart up Kilimanjaro. So one can only hope that the Leaf's driving experience will not merely pander to our deep-seated guilt, but also feed our constant need for deep-seated speed.

I am, though, a little concerned about the bear hugging the man. Could it be that he is not actually showing gratitude for the man's excellent environmental choice? Could it be that the bear believes that, being a homeless animal, the nice man will take pity on him, put him up in his spare room, feed him cookies and let him drive his car?