Who doesn’t love the Superbowl? The competition, the commercials, the excuse to drink beer. This year’s champ, the New York Giants, certainly deserved the title, though I wonder if their quarterback, Eli Manning, “deserved” his Cadillac Escalade, a behemoth of a vehicle whose hybrid status seems like a serious dose of greenwashing. Blogstress Elizabeth Howard is asking Eli to give back the 18 mpg hybrid gas guzzler, and we’ll second that motion.

The hybrid SUV is a classic example of the “how much is good enough” issue inherent to so much of corporations’ going green efforts. Okay, so the Escalade is greenER, but isn’t this really just a green marketing spin on a bigger issue? Should we applaud GM for even making such efforts or scold them for their continuous production of such an unnecessarily large and inefficient vehicle? The fact that it’s given as the prize for winning America’s biggest sporting event is even more troubling- we’re essentially sending the message that the best reward is misrepresented, irresponsible luxury.

I suppose the silver lining is that Eli Manning chose the hybrid SUV from a variety of Cadillacs. The Hybrid Escalade, which will be available later this year, was Eli’s “responsible” choice, however clouded in materialism it may have been. “I know it comes out in the summer. I want the first one.”

In addition to the Escalade debacle, the Superbowl was rife with “green” auto commercials as well, all showcasing their newest high-fuel-efficiency models, topping out at a not-so-impressive 21 miles per gallon. What gives? Is 2008, the year of green going mainstream, going to continue down this path of mass pop culture greenwashing? As an iconic annual American event with such ubiquity and advertising value (30 second advertising spots went for upwards of $2.5 million) it’s a shame to see such public displays. We think it’s a missed opportunity for companies to set an example, to prove that going green should be about re-examining corporate priorities instead of reverting to the lowest common denominator or lesser of two evils.

We’d love to hear your thoughts… let the debates begin.

+ Cadillac Superbowl video of Eli Manning