from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. An issue or incident (originally, a legal case) arousing widespread controversy or public debate.
From French cause ("cause, case") + célèbre ("famous"), in the title of a famous 18-century compilation of famous legal cases, Nouvelles Causes Célèbres. (Wiktionary)
Then he drove by the turnpike's piece de resistance, its cause célèbre if you will — an enormous industrial power plant between exits 12 and 13 that closely resembled the futuristic nightmare world in the beginning of the Terminator movies.