In about 20 years, 16-year-old Americans will be learning to drive on hydrogen-powered cars. That's one bold vision of the future offered by President Bush in last week's State of the Union address.Pledging $1.7 billion over the next five years to the development of hydrogen fuel cells, and the cars they will eventually power, Bush promised to unleash the country's best minds and find a way out of the US' dependence on foreign oil, and towards a greener energy solution. Those sentiments are sound, but the vision seemed misplaced in a speech that was ostensibly designed to position the US as a responsible global player, and not a cowboy nation. On the one hand, he outlined a huge overseas initiative to combat AIDS, specifically targeting 12 African nations, a move that won public praise from these countries. On the other, he missed an opportunity to counter one of the most pervasive impressions that much of the world has about America, namely that we are unwilling to sacrifice even one portion of our indulgent lifestyles for the greater good. Americans will not be asked to trade in their Hummer for the new Mini, or to carpool, or drive 55 on the highway. Instead, we will find a way to have our SUVs and drive them too. The rest of the world will find that discrete message affirms their worst suspicions about this country. It's not a great message for Americans either, as we now face the unknown consequences of a possible war. A 1970s-level shortage may not be likely in today's world, but if we are focusing on an energy solution that is at least 20 years away, how prepared are we for what may happen in the coming months? Dell epitomizes 'open' communications The Workspaces column in The Wall Street Journal is a weekly gem and, in a Highlights kind of way, "fun with a purpose." Literally a glimpse into the corridors of power, the feature examines the office space of senior executives. Invariably, and predictably, the workstation set-up reveals something about the company's management style. For example, the founder of talent agency Blue Focus Management surrounds himself with Disney memorabilia. The likenesses of Jiminy Cricket and Dumbo help him and his firm cast aside all pretense, he said, and avoid getting caught up in the egomaniacal absurdity of Hollywood. Donald Stark, managing partner of Seattle-based PR agency Gogerty Stark Marriot, let the Journal into his glass-topped office space. "Transparency" is the theme, according to Stark, who claimed that the space creates an "open and collaborative culture." Last week's peek into Michael Dell's office, which he (gasp) shares (albeit through a glass wall and sliding door, which is never closed) with Dell president Kevin Rollins, was a perfectly pitched PR coup. "It's an open relationship. There are no secrets," Rollins told the reporter. Chimes in Dell, "With all the tools and technology we have, there's no substitute for face-to-face communications." The column sends a message that non-verbal communication is powerful. No doubt there are plenty of offices that promise openness with giant windows, but still keep the shades down on the executive suite.