In 1977, President Jimmy Carter declared that we were in the midst of an "energy crisis" that threatened to overwhelm us if we failed to act decisively. He installed solar panels on the White House, created a Cabinet-level Department of Energy, and funded alternative energy programs.
Just a few years later, incoming president Ronald Reagan made a point of undoing many of the initiatives championed by Carter. He gutted federal energy programs, caved in to oil and automobile industry requests, and in a dramatic (and wrongheaded) move worthy of the B-movies that he starred in, Reagan removed the solar panels on the White House. The Reagan/Bush administrations pursued an aggressively anti-environmental, pro-industry agenda, leading us to where we are today: smack dab in the middle of yet another environmental and energy crisis.
Though Carter left office as one of the most unpopular presidents on record, history may yet judge him differently. I do.