Peter Baldwin of TNR has put together a very intriguing slide show that helps debunk the America is from Mars, Europe is from Venus myth by showing that on some very key measures (market regulation, public education, social policy, health care, crime, and the environment) we are very much alike.
Slide 2 (to see the others, copy "Are America and Europe Really All That Different?" and paste it into A Blue View's search box at the top right):
Automobile use. Despite the perception that America is a hyper-motorized nation, its citizens own fewer passenger cars per head than many Europeans. And even if one includes the figures for all road motor vehicles (to account for American drivers’ use of SUVs and light trucks), the U.S. figures are lower than Portugal's and in the same league as Luxembourg's, Iceland's, and Italy's.
What's more, contrary to what is commonly supposed, the United States has a well-developed rail system. True, Americans do not themselves travel on this extensive rail network. But it does transport the country's freight, and at a rate over three times the highest found in any European country (Sweden). Ecologically speaking, there's no advantage in sending passengers by rail if freight is sent by road, and all European countries send more goods by truck than by rail. The upshot is that the number of trucks per capita is lower in America than anywhere in Europe--one-third, for example, of the Norwegian, French, or Austrian levels--so the European virtue of taking the train is offset by the fact that their dishwashers, turnips, and cornflakes are being driven around on the road.