Nader reached the pinnacle of his influence during the 1970s. He was widely credited with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and the Freedom of Information Act in 1974, and a 1971 Harris Poll named him the sixth-most popular American. When Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, several of Nader's top proteges were chosen for administration positions.
But as the decadent '80s began, Nader's tireless campaigns against big business began to fall out of favor with the public. By 1985, he headed just two of the many consumer agencies he had founded, and his influence was fading.
In 1986, his brother Shafeek died of prostate cancer, and Nader suffered from depression. But he rebounded by pressing the car industry to mass-produce air bags and, in so doing, introduced himself to a new generation of activists.