Okay, so, with regard to the EPRI study business. The organization has a good reputation for doing real research, and the people who did the report in question are real scientists, nor is this the first study to reach the same basic conclusion (see, this, for example). What's more, the basic point is perfectly in line with common sense. Thinking in the longer term, the available options for making electricity generation greener seem much, much better than do the possible ways of creating greener liquid fuels and as Kevin Drums says plug-in hybrids are a good transitional technology that will create incentives to build the sort of infrastructure we would need to make electric-only cars a reasonable option at some point.
Long story short -- plug-in hybrids are a good thing. In particular, insofar as one feels the need to throw some kind of bone in the direction of the coal industry (exactly the sort of thing someone engaged in practical politics might want to do) using coal to create electricity and using electricity to power plug-in hybrids (or, indeed, electric cars) is much, much more environment friendly than is coal liquification.