President George W. Bush is promoting the wider use of hybrid vehicles as part of his energy policy, but the effort is drawing rhetorical fire from both Democrats and several automakers.

Democrats are upset over Bush's support of hybrids because he derided the same technology during the 2000 campaign, a technology Democratic candidate Al Gore supported.

During the campaign, Bush said Gore's proposal for a targeted tax cut for people who owned hybrid vehicles was unworkable. Now, the president plans to offer up to $3 billion worth of tax credits over the next 11 years for the purchase hybrid and fuel-cell-powered vehicles.

The sniping goes both ways, Republicans have pointed out. Party members note that more than 50% of the growth in energy consumption by the United States over the last 25 years took place between 1994 and 2000, when President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was in office.

Several automakers also feel snubbed by President Bush's hybrid effort. Japanese car manufacturers, notably Honda and Toyota, already have hybrid passenger vehicles in production and have plans to build 15,000 hybrid passenger sedans this year. However, at the president's recent press conference to tout hybrid technology, only vehicles from the Big 3 automakers were on display, prototype vehicles that won't be ready for production until 2004 at the earliest.