David Letterman, electric car evangelist?

The Tesla Model S all-electric car made an appearance on "Late Night with David Letterman" on Wednesday. The $50,000 four-door will go up to 300 miles per charge of its lithium-ion batteries

Well, that was a shocking development.

Jay Leno is usually the late-night host that comes to mind when discussing matters automotive. But his biggest competitor took a turn in the driver's seat last week when he hosted Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk on CBS's "Late Night With David Letterman."

The Silicon Valley CEO came on to tout his company's upcoming Model S. The four-door, all-electric car is due out sometime in 2011, and comes in at half the price of its $100,000 two-seat older brother.

A hoarse Letterman spent the majority of the interview bemoaning the troubles that befell the electric car industry in the '90s. One got the feeling that the TV host had just finished watching "Who Killed the Electric Car?" before stepping onstage.

But this wasn't the first time the funnyman has used his place behind the desk to go off on things environmental. Moved by the effect of carbon dioxide emissions on the atmosphere, Letterman famously declared "we are dead meat!" in remarks before an appearance by Thomas L. Friedman last September, when the New York Times columnist was on the show to promote his book "Hot, Flat, and Crowded."

And it wasn't the first time the comic had discussed electric cars, either. Guest Tom Hanks spent much of a 2006 appearance discussing his car, which Letterman playfully dubbed "The Hankster."

Wednesday night's appearance by Tesla's Musk was highlighted by an in-studio look at the Model S. But perhaps the best part of the segment was Letterman's feigned electrocution when he took hold of the car's steering wheel, shouting "Turn it off! Turn it off!!"

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