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Toronto Maple Leafs, Andy Roddick, Adidas, and General Motors. Consider them the theme-runners in each of their respective arenas. All decent at what they do. More than decent really.

But they are all chronic underachievers, or at least appear to underachieve when contrasted with that which is dominant in their field: Ottawa Senators, Club Fed, Nike, and Toyota. We, as I speak for most of us, root for the Maple Leafs when they do well, cheer when Roddick wins a tournament, buy some Adidas outerwear, and want GM to do well. But – and you knew it was coming – they just aren’t worthy of complete praise.

I can’t recall the last time I told somebody the Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup. I’ve never told anybody that Andy Roddick would most definitely win at Wimbledon. I automatically purchase Nike basketball shoes, and I haven’t placed my star of approval on many new General Motors automobiles. Silverado/Sierra, Suburban/Yukon, Corvette. Bring it.

Yet, in everyday conversation with a critic whose harshness against GM knows no bounds, I said something like, “Ya know, I think GM could actually turn it around sometime soon. They have introduced some almost cool cars lately. Some of their upcoming stuff is cool.”

The harsh critic said, “Oh.”

I’m actually serious, though. Last year at this time we heard that GM lost $6.6 billion in one fiscal quarter. Ouch, and indeed, eek. Today’s news? GM earned $950 million in the equivalent quarter versus that $6.6 billion loss. Forget about one-time earnings and such things and GM still earned $180 million.

It’s really quite interesting, isn’t it? We could all give five or ten reasons why GM needed to be buried, but when GM does well even the press gets excited. Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, Cadillac, Saturn, Saab, Hummer, Buick, Vauxhall, Opel, and Holden drivers get excited. I don’t drive a GM product, and the last one I did apparently went awry not long after I was done with it.

However, Pontiac will introduce a production version of the G8 before long. I gotta say it: hot car. It’s a redone Holden but engineered and designed from the beginning to drive and look like a Pontiac should. No, the Saturn Aura is NOT deserving of North American car of the year. The British press have since mocked the fact that this re-badged Vauxhall Vectra could muster enough of a re-styling to earn the praise of North American media. Really, it is better than a Vectra.

It takes a really good regular mid-sizer or a mid-sizer of a higher notch like the G8 to earn stockholders favour and, more importantly the favour of consumers. Corvette Z06? Awesome, amazing, audacious… but it has no effect on me. Saturn Sky? Looks great, drives well, but the vast majority of the car-buying public, even the younger public, is not interested in 2-seaters with no trunk room.

I want to see new tech such as was introduced by the Chevrolet Volt. It would be nice to see the next Malibu drive as nice as it looks. Most anything would be an improvement on the looks and the driving the current Malibu offers.

The Leafs will not win the Stanley Cup this year. They may not make the playoffs, but we all want them to. A-Roddick can destroy Gasquet in the second set at the Pacific Life, but he won’t win Wimbledon. Going out on a limb, I am.

GM could earn money every quarter this year. Not so long and unstable a limb when I say ‘could’.