G. P. Bear goes to Washington
The true story of a libertarian carnivore
Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
By Bill and Joe Steigerwald
George Orwell used satire and talking pigs in “Animal Farm.” Now, with a foot of snow in Jerusalem signaling the start of the next ice age, veteran libertarian journalist Bill Steigerwald shamelessly steals Orwell’s idea and uses talking polar bears to poke fun at global warming alarmists and their fellow travelers in Washington and the media.
Twisting the title of director Frank Capra’s movie masterpiece to his own evil ends, Steigerwald and his son Joe have created “G.P. Bear Goes to Washington.” The 6-part serialized “docu-fable” stars Grandpa, a magical, media-savvy and proudly skeptical libertarian polar bear who understands his species is in far greater danger from the interventions of the federal government, Barbara Boxer, Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and overzealous wildlife scientists than from anthropogenic climate change.
“Are we not polar bears?”
Of all the animals the Inuit traditionally hunted, Nanuk, the polar bear, was the most prized. Native hunters considered Nanuk to be wise, powerful, and “almost a man.” Some called the bear “the great lonely roamer.” Many tribes told legends of strange polar-bear men that lived in igloos. These bears walked upright, just like men, and were able to talk. Natives believed they shed their skins in the privacy of their homes.
– Polar Bears International
TASIILAQ, EAST GREENLAND
Grandpa Polar Bear was relaxing in his easy chair watching a special news report on TV called “Plight of the Polar Bears.” As a mother bear and her cub stood forlornly on a tiny shrinking iceberg somewhere near the Arctic Circle, the dashing reporter from CNN sounded like he was going to cry.
“…. because of global climate change, polar bears are suffering population losses and may soon become extinct. Rising temperatures are melting the sea ice earlier and earlier each summer, leaving the bears less time to hunt for their primary food — ringed seals. If we don’t reduce our burning of fossil fuels soon, scientists say the only place our children will be able to see these magnificent creatures will be in a zoo or in a Walt Disney movie. For CNN, I’m Anderson Cooper.”
“Extinct!?” Grandpa roared, slapping the arms of his leather chair with his huge paws. “Melting sea ice!? Shrinking bear populations? Who writes this junk, Al Gore?”
“Don’t get upset, Dad,” said Mother, looking up from her latest copy of Reason magazine. “It’s CNN. What do you expect? Fairness? Balance?”
“What were they saying about polar bears dying, Grandpa?” asked Junior, looking worried as he came in from the kitchen with a bottle of Coke.
“Nothing, Junior. Nothing,” Grandpa grumbled. “Just a lot of make-believe.”
After dinner, Grandpa read Junior a bedtime story. As Grandpa was about to turn off the nightlight, Junior asked, “Grandpa, why do you yell at the TV? The people in it can’t hear you.”
“I know,” Grandpa said with a smile. “They live far away in New York and Washington. That’s why they don’t know anything about polar bears or the Arctic.”
Junior looked anxiously at Grandpa. “Mother said your heart will get attacked if you keep yelling at the news.”
“Don’t you worry,” Grandpa chuckled. “I just get mad when humans make us look like sissies who can’t handle a little change in the weather. We’re polar bears, for Pete’s sake. We’re not helpless victims. We don’t need the government, Keith Olbermann, Greenpeace, Leonardo DiCaprio or anyone else to protect us from Mother Nature.
“If humans just left us alone and if their scientists stopped chasing us with helicopters and shooting us with dart guns we’d be fine.”
“Why don’t you go to where the humans on TV live and yell at them?” wondered Junior. “Everyone always listens when you yell.”
“They wouldn’t believe a thing I’d tell them. But that’s a good idea, Junior,” Grandpa said, clicking off the nightlight. “A darn good idea. ”
“Guess what I learned today?” Junior asked as he came running in from school.
“I can’t imagine,” Grandpa mumbled.
“Shush, Dad,” said Mother. “What did you learn, Junior?”
“I learned all about ‘global melting,’ ” Junior began breathlessly. “The whole world is getting hotter because humans drive too many cars. The sea ice is going to go away forever and — ”
“Whoa!” interrupted Grandpa. “Who taught you that stuff? Rachel Maddow?”
“No,” said Junior. “Principal Hansen. She came to homeroom today. Her big computer says Earth is getting hotter and hotter and Greenland is melting really, really fast. All the ice will be gone when I get as old as you.”
“That’s preposterous,” Grandpa said.
“Principal Hansen said the oceans will get taller and taller,” Junior said with a worried look on his face. “Principal Hansen said polar bears and lots of other animals will get ‘stinkt if humans keep burning stuff like coal. It’s really scary, Grandpa.”
“Principal Hansen’s crazier than Al Gore,” Grandpa said to Mother so Junior couldn’t hear. “Didn’t I tell you that boy should have been home-schooled?”
Later that same night, after midnight, Grandpa was at his desk. He was sending his usual round of disparaging e-mails to the politicians in Washington when Junior’s cry pierced the stillness.
“Grandpa!” Junior wailed. “Help me. I’m burning!”
Grandpa and Mother raced to Junior’s bedside. Junior was crying in his sleep. “Help me, Grandpa,” he pleaded mournfully. “I’m too young to melt.”
“Junior, wake up,” Grandpa said, shaking him. “You’re dreaming.”
Junior’s eyes popped open. “Grandpa! Mother! The ice was all gone! We were stuck on a tiny iceberg. The ocean was boiling!”
“It was just a silly nightmare, Junior,” soothed Mother. “The ice isn’t melting. See?” she said, patting the rock-hard wall of their cave.
Grandpa was fuming. He gritted his big teeth and looked Junior straight in his teary eyes.
“Boy,” he said firmly, “I’m going to tell you something I want you to remember for the rest of your life. We are polar bears. We are the largest land carnivores on Earth. We are the species ursus maritimus — ‘bears of the sea.’ We can swim 200 miles. We can walk 100 miles a day.
“We learned how to live on this frozen wasteland thousands of years before humans discovered fire. There are 25,000 of us alive today — twice as many as 50 years ago. We are not going to become extinct no matter what Principal Hansen and her big computers say. Now go to sleep and no more silly nightmares.”
“That was no nightmare,” Grandpa whispered angrily to Mother. “That boy’s being brainwashed by a bunch of kooks.”
“That’s all the schools teach,” said Mother. “It’s like a new religion. Every cub I know thinks the ice will be gone before they grow up. All the mothers are complaining.”
Grandpa was fuming. “Polar bears having nightmares,” he snarled. “That’s pathetic. It’s time somebody stood up to lunatics like Hansen and their doomsday stories.”
“Act of Endangerment”
TASIILAQ, EAST GREENLAND
Grandpa, Mother and Junior were at Erik the Red’s Sports Den. The place was crowded for the big Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.
Every bear in the bar had their eyes glued to the TV monitors. Just as the Bears quarterback was dropping back to throw a long pass, the game suddenly disappeared.
“Hey!!!” bellowed Grandpa and a hundred other Bears fans.
“We interrupt this program for important breaking news,” said the announcer as two sunburned old humans appeared on screen.
“The threat posed by global warming to all life on Earth is very real,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada as he and Senator Barbara Boxer of California huddled at a microphone outside the snow-covered Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. “Therefore, Senator Boxer and I have decided to introduce special legislation that will place polar bears on the Endangered Species list by the Christmas recess.”
“Oh no,” Grandpa moaned, putting his head in his big paws. “I was afraid it would come to this.”
“These majestic creatures are innocent victims of the evil axis of Big Energy,” Senator Boxer added, her voice cracking with emotion. “Our irresponsible burning of oil, coal and gas is melting the Arctic paradise of the polar bear. Without our help they will starve and soon become extinct. When our bill becomes law, however, the polar bear will be protected forever from man-made global warming by the Endangered Species Act.”
Grandpa stood up. “Listen up, all of you,” he yelled. Everyone quickly gathered around the wise and widely respected old bear.
“This is a very serious threat,” Grandpa said grimly. “If we are put on that darn list, it will mean the end of our traditional way of life forever.”
“What do you mean?” someone asked.
“An army of nature scientists, government bureaucrats and pushy celebrities will invade our land. They’re all part of what I call ‘The Axis of Environmentalism,’ ” Grandpa explained.
“They will say they are coming to protect us from global warming and to do us good. But what they will really do is slowly take away our freedoms and take over our lives. They’ll force us to change how we live, what we eat and where we can travel. It’ll be just like we’re being kept in a federal zoo.”
“But we’ll we get free food and health care,” said a young male bear sipping on his sixth Labatt Blue.
“Don’t be foolish,” Grandpa said. “Whatever the government gives us won’t really be free. Once we’re on that list, they’ll have us all wearing radio collars and carrying government ID cards. We’ll have wildlife scientists videotaping our sex lives and telling us where and what we can hunt.”
“Will they take away our snowmobiles and satellite dishes?” someone asked.
“No, they won’t take our snowmobiles or TVs or anything else,” Grandpa snapped impatiently. “Humans don’t know we have those things because they can’t see them. If they did know, they’d take them away from us in a Newfoundland minute.”
“Who will tell those humans in Washington we don’t need their help?” someone asked. “And don’t want it, either,” added someone else.
The 100 polar bears had forgotten all about the football game. An uneasy silence fell over the bar. Then Grandpa spoke. “I’ll do it,” he said in a quiet but confident voice. “I’ll explain how tomorrow night at the town meeting.”
The town meeting was bubbling with excitement as 400 polar bears sat on the uncomfortable metal folding chairs set up on the floor of the Southeast Greenland High School gym.
“My plan is quite simple,” began Grandpa, standing at a podium in front of the assembled bears. Next to him was a large nautical map that showed Greenland, the Labrador Current and the East Coast of the United States. Mother and Junior sat to the side of the map on folding chairs.
“I intend to travel to Washington,” Grandpa said. “I’m going there to convince the politicians that global warming poses no threat to us and that we do not want to be placed on the Endangered Species list.”
Everyone began talking excitedly. Grandpa held up his hand to silence them.
“I will ride on an iceberg most of the way. And then .”
“You can’t possibly ride an iceberg to Washington,” interrupted the Mayor, who sat at a long table with the town’s five frowning council members. Each of the officials had been darted and captured by wildlife scientists at least once and each wore matching radio tracking collars and yellow metal tags with serial numbers in both ears.
“Icebergs make it as far south as New York City all the time,” Grandpa replied, stabbing the map with his pointer. “In 1926, an iceberg reached Bermuda. And as you can see, the Labrador Current hugs the coast all the way to North Carolina.”
“But surely, with global warming, your iceberg will melt long before you get there,” the Mayor said skeptically.
“It’ll get us close enough. Then we’ll swim. It shouldn’t be more than 200 miles.”
” ‘We’? ” the Mayor asked suspiciously. “Who is ‘we’?”
“My daughter and my grandson,” Grandpa said, nodding toward Mother and Junior. “I want the politicians pushing this foolish law to see exactly who will be harmed the most by it our children and grandchildren who will lose their freedoms.”
“But you can’t just walk into the United States Senate,” said the Mayor. “You’ll be arrested. Or shot.”
“I’ve already solved that problem, Mayor,” said Grandpa, raising his voice over the murmuring crowd. “I’ve been communicating with a senator by e-mail. He’s invited me to appear on Dec. 18 as an expert witness during the hearings on the Endangered Species bill. I plan to leave in three days.”
Suddenly, Principal Jane Hansen stood up in the crowd and pointed at Grandpa.
“Sir, you are ignorant and backward. You are an embarrassment to all progressive polar bears. How can you deny what Al Gore and other great climate scientists have proven? We are in mortal danger from humans and the climate change they are causing. The global temperature data clearly shows that ….”
“Sit down, Hansen,” a bear hollered. “We don’t believe you or your phony computers. Garbage in, garbage out.”
“We cannot permit this, this, this stupid old yellow bear to speak for us in Washington,” said Principal Hansen, who was so hot under her radio collar she collapsed in her chair.
“Why should we pay for your risky and quixotic scheme?” the Mayor asked Grandpa.
“I’m not asking taxpayers to pay a cent,” Grandpa said. “All I ask is that you let the citizens decide. I believe they will entrust me to faithfully represent their best interests in Washington.”
The gym exploded with cheers and thunderous applause. When a vote was taken, nearly every bear raised a forepaw in support of Grandpa. The only nay votes came from those wearing radio collars and yellow metal ear tags. The losers grumbled and growled, but there was nothing they could do.
The bears had spoken. G.P Bear was on his way to Washington.
“Voyage of the Polar Bears”
TASIILAQ, EAST GREENLAND
For their historic voyage to Washington, Grandpa carefully chose a special iceberg from among the hundreds slowly drifting past them on the Greenland Sea. Almost 500 feet long, and with two pointed peaks towering 200 feet above the water like sails, it looked like a clipper ship made of blue glass.
While Mother and Junior dug a new cave and fixed it up with some IKEA furniture they found at the town dump, Grandpa and Cousin Eddie hooked up a satellite dish, a small color TV set and a table lamp to a Honda power generator.
“God bless ExxonMobil,” Grandpa said with a wicked laugh as he lugged two 10-gallon cans of gasoline onto the iceberg. “Solar panels don’t work too well when the sun doesn’t come up five months of the year, do they, Junior?”
Mother packed books for Junior’s home-schooling sessions and her special sewing project, which she kept in the old brown suitcase she used when she and Grandpa immigrated to Greenland from Alaska in 1994.
Grandpa brought his ancient nautical charts, a tattered copy of Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” and a 1964 National Geographic tourist map of Washington, D.C., which had a big red circle drawn around the U.S. Capitol Building. Most important, he brought a letter he had received from Washington.
Addressed to “Mr. G.P. Bear,” it was his ticket to the polar bear hearings being held Dec. 18 by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:
Tasiilaq, East Greenland
Dear Mr. Bear,
We are pleased to accept your generous offer to appear as an expert witness at our Dec. 18 hearing to decide whether polar bears should be placed on the Endangered Species list. As someone who has lived among polar bears and studied them for 50 years, your credentials are most impressive. We look forward to hearing what you have to say about these magnificent creatures and we hope it will help us craft legislation that will save arsus maritimus from certain extinction from the effects of man-made global warming.
U.S. Senator, Minnesota
For the next two months, Grandpa’s magical iceberg traveled faster than any had ever traveled before or since. Exactly as Grandpa planned, it sped south and met up with the swift Labrador Current, which swung it around the Island of Newfoundland, through the treacherous Grand Banks and down into the North Atlantic.
As Grandpa predicted, it was the coldest, most ferocious winter in North America in 1,000 years. By Thanksgiving the entire East Coast was locked in a brutal cold spell. For the first time since 1776, the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay were frozen solid.
The Labrador Current carried their shrunken iceberg to within 50 miles of land. Then, putting mother’s old suitcase in a garbage bag, the bears slipped into the sea and swam until they reached the thick ice covering Chesapeake Bay.
“Just like home,” Grandpa said, climbing onto the ice and surveying the vast frozen wasteland.
The weather in Washington was perfect for polar bears. A vicious Arctic air mass had been parked over the city for weeks, pounding it with a series of blizzards that closed most government offices. Not even Al Roker could explain its mysterious origins.
Twenty-four hours later, as the three polar bears walked up the middle of the frozen Potomac River, they saw the Washington Monument shining in the distance. Grandpa smiled. “We’ve made it, kids. Now comes the hard part getting the politicians in this town to do the right thing.”
JEFFERSON MEMORIAL, WASHINGTON, D.C.
It would have been an odd sight if any humans had been around to see three polar bears walking across the Tidal Basin and climbing the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. Open to the cold air and blowing snow, its cavernous icy marble interior was empty except for a 19-foot bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson.
“He’s as big as you are,” Junior said to Grandpa.
“He’s much bigger than I am,” Grandpa whispered as if he were in a church. “See those words engraved there on the wall. They’re from the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson is the human who wrote them.”
“What do they say?” Junior asked.
Grandpa smiled and winked at Mother. “They say, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all polar bears are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'”
“Those words are some of the greatest ever written about freedom,” Mother said. “Too bad so many humans no longer believe in them,” she added, opening her brown suitcase and taking out a neatly folded stack of human clothes.
“These should fit,” Mother said, handing Grandpa a dark herringbone three-button wool suit, matching vest and wide-striped tie like the one she had seen Jimmy Stewart wearing in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” “Your eyeglasses are in the breast pocket.”
“And here’s your costume, Junior,” Mother said, giving him a pair of home-made blue jeans and a Chicago Cubs T-shirt to go with his backpack and Cubs baseball cap. “And your glasses. Don’t ever take them off when we’re in the presence of humans.”
After Mother put on her black skirt, blouse and seashell pink blazer, she pulled out her pair of gray Kawasaki 704 eyeglasses and put them on. Except for her black nose, she looked eerily like Sarah Palin.
“What do you think, Dad?” Mother asked Grandpa. “They were a little pricy, even on the Internet. But I think they work.”
The three bears looked at each other’s outfits admiringly. They weren’t the latest fashions, but as far as any humans who looked at them could tell the trio looked like an ordinary if large – family of humans who’d come to Washington to see the sights.
For several hours the three bears explored the snowy, deserted streets of downtown Washington. Grandpa had a long list of places he had always dreamed of visiting and they were all carefully plotted on the old map he carried.
They walked across the frozen Tidal Basin to the Washington Monument, where Grandpa hoped to take an elevator ride to the top. But it was closed because of the horrible weather, so instead they visited the National World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
As they strolled past the brightly lit White House, two wary policemen in a patrol car slowed down to look them over.
“Wave, Mother,” Grandpa said under his breath as the policeman driving the car shined a spotlight on them. “Wave, Junior.”
The policeman hesitated. He squinted his eyes. Something seemed very, very fishy. He unlocked the shotgun attached to the dashboard of his patrol car.
“Abraham, Martin & Grandpa”
Grandpa was afraid their special glasses weren’t working properly and the police officers could tell they were polar bears, so he yelled from the sidewalk.
“Hello, officer. We’re visiting from out of town. Do you know if there’s a Wal-Mart nearby that’s open all night?’
“What do you want with a Wal-Mart?” the suspicious policeman responded, moving his hand to the handle of his service pistol. “They’re illegal in this city.”
“It’s his favorite store,” Junior piped up. “He doesn’t even care if the toys are made in China.”
“We’re just looking to ‘save money and live better,'” Mother said, smiling as innocently as she could. Her big white teeth and eyeglasses reflected the shine of the policeman’s light.
The policeman stared at the bears for what seemed like forever. “Move along,” he finally said as he switched off the spotlight and slowly drove away.
“Man,” the policeman said to his sleepy partner in the front seat, “Didn’t she remind you of that Sarah Palin woman?”
“Nah,” his partner said. “Too big and hairy. They must be from Russia or something.”
Free from the watchful eyes of the DC police, the bears continued to their next stop, the venerable Lincoln Memorial. Through the locked entrance doors the bears could see the statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in his gigantic stone chair.
Standing on the memorial’s marble steps in the dawn’s early light, the three bears admired the Washington Monument and its reflecting pool.
“These steps are where Martin Luther King gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in 1963,” Grandpa said to Junior. “See that tall white dome with the point on it?” he said, pointing to a building behind the Washington Monument.
“That’s the U.S. Capitol Building. It’s where the country’s laws are made, for better or for worse. I’ll be there tomorrow fighting for the freedom of all the world’s polar bears.”
“Aren’t you scared, Grandpa?” Junior asked.
“Not any more,” Grandpa said. “I know I’m fighting for what’s right. Plus, I have Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Lincoln and the Rev. King on my side.”
When the three bears arrived at the U.S. Capitol Building at 9 a.m., a wild scene awaited them on the West Lawn.
Thousands of people had come to demonstrate their love for polar bears and their support for a new law to place them on the Endangered Species list. Everywhere the three real bears looked they saw cute and cuddly make-believe polar bears.
High above them were two polar bear hot-air balloons and blowing along the snowy ground were a dozen inflatable bears eight feet tall and topped with Santa Claus hats. Scores of humans danced in cheap polar bear costumes and wore “Stop Global Warming” T-shirts or waved hand-made signs that read “Polar Bear SOS!” or “Save Me.”
Hundreds of public school children brought in by bus were chanting “Save our polar bears” and selling plastic polar bear figurines to raise money to fight against drilling for oil in the Arctic.
In a row of carnival booths surrounding the Capitol Building Christmas tree, a lot of money was being made by the many environmentalist groups. The Natural Resource Defense Council was seeking donations for its “Polar Bear S.O.S.” campaign. The World Wildlife Foundation offered symbolic polar bear adoption kits for $250.
Grandpa, Mother and Junior made their way through the crowd in their human costumes. Thanks to their special eyeglasses, no one realized they were polar bears. When they reached the bottom of the Capitol Building’s steps, Grandpa turned and surveyed the crazy scene.
“Saving polar bears is big business. Too bad we don’t get any royalties,” he said with a laugh. Then Grandpa pushed his eyeglasses to the back of his nose, unbuttoned his suit coat and started up the steep steps of the Capitol Building. “Come on, kids. Let’s roll.”
U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING
At the entrance of the U.S. Capitol Building Grandpa showed a security guard the invitation from Senator Al Franken inviting him to attend the Endangered Species hearings.
“Sorry about the temperature, folks,” the guard apologized as he escorted the three bears to the back of a hearing room crammed with shivering humans and lots of television cameras. “For some mysterious reason our heating system broke down early this morning.”
“We’ll be fine, thanks,” Grandpa said. “We’re from up north. We’re kind of used to the cold.”
In the front of the room were 15 United States senators in wool scarves, mittens and matching dark suits. Barbara Boxer was chairing the meeting. Star witness Albert Arnold “Al” Gore was droning on about what had to be done to stop the coming climate apocalypse.
“We are facing a planetary crisis of unprecedented scope,” Gore droned. “The United States government must immediately outlaw coal and make possession of incandescent light bulbs a capital crime or polar ice caps will melt and sea levels will rise 75 feet.”
“Madame Chair,” blurted Senator James Inhofe, “Mr. Gore is so full of ….”
“Shut up, Jim.” Senator Boxer snarled. “We know what Big Oil thinks. Go on, Al, tell us about the threat to the polar bear.”
“The very existence of the species is imperiled by anthropogenic global climate change,” Gore droned. “Our computer climate models tell us the Arctic sea ice will be entirely gone in 7.3 years and polar bears will become extinct in 11 years, 10 months, 14 days, 11 hours and 32 minutes.”
“What can the Senate do to avoid that awful tragedy?” Senator Boxer agonized.
“It’s very simple,” Al Gore droned. “We must have the political will to force every American family to reduce its carbon footprint by 50 percent within six months. Or they can purchase $10,000 worth of carbon credits from Al Gore Global Enterprises Inc. I call my idea the ‘Carbon Choice Act.'”
“Al, would your conglomerate excuse me, nonprofit — provide those carbon credits to every American?”
“Yes, it would,” Al Gore droned. “For a commission of only 20 percent.”
“Bless you, Al. Bless you.”
“Well,” Gore droned modestly, “we do what we can to save our fragile planet. You know I just wrote another book, ‘Our Choice,’ that spells out everything we must do to reverse global warming. Tipper dries our wash outside on the line and recently she sold two of our family jets to Oprah.”
“You two!” gushed Senator Boxer. “You’re green role models for us all! Now, in addition to immediately placing the polar bear on the Endangered Species list, tell us, please, what else can the Senate do to help you save the Earth?”
“I’d love to take three hours to answer that, Barb,” Al Gore droned, looking down at his Blackberry. “But my pilot just texted me and my Gulfstream G450 is ready to go.”
“Going home to your Tennessee mansion for the weekend?”
“No. Tipper and I are jetting over to Paris and back for a quiet dinner. While I’m there, I have to pick up my third Jerry Lewis Genius Prize from the French National Film Academy.”
“Another well-deserved honor for “An Inconvenient Truth,” your breathtakingly simple explanation of global warming?” Senator Boxer asked with admiring twinkles in both eyes.
“Yes,” Al Gore droned humbly. “For Best Recycling of Hollywood Special-Effects in a Science Documentary.”
As Al Gore’s private helicopter lifted off from the Capitol Building’s West Lawn, Senator Al Franken finally spoke the words Grandpa had traveled 2,000 miles to hear.
“Madam Chairwoman,” he said, “I’d like to call our final expert — Mr. G.P. Bear. He’s an Inuit from East Greenland and he has much to teach us about polar bears. I bet he can even give us some tips on how to cope with this strange cold spell we’re having, ha, ha, ha.”
“Boxer blows her top”
U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING
“Senator Boxer,” Grandpa began, his powerful voice shaking the room, “I want to thank you for this opportunity to tell the American people the truth about polar bears.”
Senator Bernie Sanders had already dozed off.
“The American public is constantly being told polar bears will be extinct in 50 years because global warming is causing the Arctic sea ice to melt. Well, senators, with all due respect, I’m here to tell you that’s a bunch of bull.”
Senator Inhofe snapped to attention, but most of the senators were distracted or reading the Washington Post sports pages. Senator Boxer didn’t hear what Grandpa said because she was asking a staffer to check if it would be legal for the Environmental Protection Agency to submit executives of foreign oil companies to waterboarding.
“Polar bears have lived on the Arctic sea ice for 250,000 years,” said Grandpa. “We know from eons of experience that the extent and thickness of the ice expands and contracts all the time because of complex natural changes in the climate and the chaotic interplay of seasonal polar winds, ocean currents and underwater volcanoes.”
Senator Franken was nervous and confused. He couldn’t tell what the heck Grandpa was talking about or whose side he was on.
“I can assure you the Arctic sea ice will not melt anytime soon, if ever,” Grandpa continued, “no matter how much carbon humans put into the air. I also can assure you and your children that the species ursus maritimus will not become extinct in 38.8 years or in 10,000.
“But those are only some of the reasons I’ve come here to ask you to beg you — not to place polar bears on the Endangered Species list.”
“Right on, Mr. Bear!” shouted Senator Inhofe.
“What did you just say, Mr. Bear?!!” shrieked Senator Boxer.
“I said I don’t want you to put polar bears on the Endangered Species list.”
“Senator Franken,” Senator Boxer exploded, “can you please explain to me how this witness who obviously works for an oil company — got himself invited to our hearing? And without providing a written copy of his testimony in advance?”
“Ah, just whose side are you on, Mr. Bear?” asked Senator Franken, trying to be tough. “Big Oil’s? Big Coal’s? Big Propane’s?
“The polar bear’s,” Grandpa said. “Always.”
“How touching,” said Senator Franken, as he was handed a note by one of his staffers. “Ah, then what would you do to protect polar bears?”
“Nothing at all, Senator. That’s my point.”
“Is that so?” Senator Franken sneered, holding up the note. “My head of research, ah, Mr. Chase, informs me Greenland isn’t even part of the United States. It belongs to Denmark. Sir, you’re not even an American citizen. Ah, why should we listen to a word you say?”
“Because I was born in Alaska,” said Grandpa. “I moved to Greenland 20 years ago. Alaska had too many polar bears. We walked 3,153 miles in 576 days to get there.”
“Walked? You’d have to be a polar bear to walk from Alaska to Greenland, ha, ha, ha. Ah, is that what you are, Mr. Bear, a polar bear?” Senator Franken said sarcastically, laughing and looking over at Senator Boxer who didn’t think his jokes were as funny as he did.
“Yes, I am,” said Grandpa, who was not under oath but always spoke the truth.
Everyone in the room laughed uproariously — except Mother, Junior and Senator Boxer.
“Mr. Bear!” scolded Senator Boxer. “You are making a mockery of these hearings! Another outrageous statement like that and I’ll have you removed!”
“But my Grandpa is a polar bear,” Junior cried out from the back of the hearing room.
Senator Boxer had to bang her gavel 15 times before she could stop the riotous laughter and regain order in the hearing room.
“Have that disrespectful boy in the baseball cap removed from this room at once,” she barked to the security guards. Grandpa turned around and saw two guards escorting Junior and Mother out the door.
“Stop!” he roared, standing to his full 10 feet and silencing the room. “I have something I want to tell everyone.”
“No you do not, Mr. Bear,” Senator Boxer shouted rabidly, banging her gavel and rapping her palm sharply on the top of her microphone. “Sit down, sir, or you’ll be removed as well!”
Grandpa stared long and hard at Senator Boxer’s face. He knew now he must do something he hoped he’d never have to do to a human being. But if he wanted to deliver his polar bear manifesto, it was now or never.
Grandpa walked over to Senator Boxer’s desk and looked directly into her angry bulging eyes. Then he bared his fearsome front teeth, raised one of his massive clawed paws and slowly took off his eyeglasses.
“Oh, my Lord, you’re a real …!” Senator Boxer squealed before fainting dead away.
The other senators, except the cheering Senator Inhofe, gawked in horror at Grandpa. Grandpa put his eyeglasses in his coat pocket and turned to the spectators.
“Bear!!!!” a man screamed. “Run for your lives!”
“Don’t be afraid!” Grandpa shouted.
“A talking bear!!!!” screamed a woman in a $30 Greenpeace save-the-polar-bear sweatshirt. “Run for your lives!!!
“Please, listen,” Grandpa pleaded as a dozen TV cameras zoomed in on his face.
No one heard a word Grandpa said. Two hundred people were yelling and crying and knocking over chairs as they tried to escape.
Senator Franken threw a glass of ice water in Senator Boxer’s face. “What should I do?” he cried, “call the zoo?”
“Call 911, you idiot,” sputtered Senator Boxer, crawling under her desk, “before that horrible beast eats us all.”
In the confusion, as live TV cameras sent the sights and sounds of a talking polar bear to every corner of the world, Junior climbed up to Senator Boxer’s desktop, picked up her microphone and rapped it as hard as he could with his paw.
Peh-thunk, peh-thunk, peh-thunk. Peh-thunk, peh-thunk, peh-thunk.
Then he took off his baseball cap and his eyeglasses — and began softly singing his favorite song. It was the song Junior always heard when he and Grandpa watched the Chicago Cubs games on TV.
O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
The hearing room became totally silent. Senator Boxer warily crept out from under her desk to see what was going on. Senator Bernie Sanders’s eyes fluttered open and closed and, half asleep, he quietly sang along to himself.
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
When Junior stopped singing, he put his eyeglasses back on and returned to his mother’s side. Everyone stared in disbelief, not quite sure what they had just seen and heard or even if it had been real. The Senate hearing room was so still everyone could hear the sirens of 25 emergency vehicles racing to the scene.
“Polar Bear Manifesto”
U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING
With a bang the Senate hearing room’s double-doors suddenly flew open. A SWAT team of 12 Navy SEALs in full riot gear and body armor stormed in, knelt down and aimed their MP5 submachine guns at Grandpa.
As the SEALs nodded to each other and took aim at Grandpa’s chest, a desperate voice behind them in the hallway cried out.
“Don’t shoot,” shouted Anderson Cooper, as he and a CNN cameraman rushed in. “Not until I get the exclusive interview.”
Grandpa stayed cool. He had a dozen TV cameras pointed at him and he knew they and Anderson Cooper were his best chance to avoid being shot to death.
“Senator Franken?” Grandpa asked over his shoulder without moving a muscle. “Do you really want the whole world to see a talking polar bear killed inside the U.S. Capitol Building on live television?”
“Um, I’m not sure,” Senator Franken said, looking down helplessly at Senator Boxer’s legs, which were sticking out from under her desk. “I’m kinda new here. I’m just an ex-comedian. Um, can I check with my writing staff and get back to you on that?”
“Senator Franken!!” screeched Senator Boxer, climbing to her feet. “The answer is ‘No,’ you idiot. ‘No, we do not want the world to see a talking polar bear slaughtered in the chambers of the United States Senate.’ ”
Looking at Senator Franken with a mix of pity and disgust, Senator Boxer pointed to the SWAT team.
“You people put away those disgusting guns. Mr. Bear – if that is his real name – poses no danger to anyone is this room. One of us invited him here. Although I’m sorry to say it, we owe him the chance to finish his propaganda speech on behalf of the criminal energy industry. You may continue with your lies, Mr. Bear, not that it’ll do you any good.”
Grandpa smiled and winked at Senator Boxer.
“Thank you, Ma’am,” he said. “Unlike most of those who come to Washington, I didn’t come to ask the government for favors, subsidies or special treatment for my species. I only ask that you treat us the way your Founding Fathers wanted government to treat peaceful citizens.
“Don’t kill us, enslave us or torture us. Don’t steal from us or unfairly tax us. Don’t tell us which god we must pray to or how we must speak or think. Don’t make us wards of the Nanny State. Let us be free to live our lives as we wish as long as we don’t hurt anyone.
The senators were dumfounded by what they were hearing.
“As for ‘global climate change,’ we don’t understand what all the fuss and fear is about. The climate is always changing. It’s perfectly natural. It’s not a crisis for my species or for humans. We’ve already survived two ice ages 100,000 years long and we’ll survive the next one, which, by the way, has already started.”
“Distinguished Senators, do my species a favor. Do not place us on your Endangered Species list — or any other list. If as lawmakers you feel you must do something positive to help us, follow Thomas Jefferson’s advice and concentrate on protecting our natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And then leave us alone.”
When Grandpa finished no one said a word. The room was completely still.
“Clap clap clap, clap, clap.”
It was Senator Booker. He wasn’t sure why, but he liked Grandpa’s speech so much he was giving it a standing ovation. So were Senator Inhofe and Senator Franken, who were both weeping but for different reasons. So were 11 other senators on the committee and all the people in the room — except Senator Boxer.
As a dozen news reporters stampeded over to interview Grandpa, Senator Boxer was already on her cell phone to her boss, Al Gore.
“Al,” she whimpered, “You thought ClimateGate was bad. We’re in serious trouble.”
THE NEWSEUM, WASHINGTON, D.C.
“… And with that,” said George Stephanopoulos, “let me bring in our special ‘Roundtable.’ This week, along with George Will, Paul Krugman and Cokie Roberts, we have G.P. Bear, the polar bear who, to put it mildly, caused quite a stir last week in the Senate. Welcome, Mr. Bear.”
“Thank you, George,” Grandpa said, adjusting his red bowtie. “Honored to be here.”
“So, Mr. Bear,” Stephanopoulos said, “you really hit a walk-off home run with what the New York Times is calling your ‘Polar Bear Manifesto.’ Yesterday the Senate passed the Polar Bear Freedom Act by a 99-1 vote.”
“The legislation is a great Christmas gift for my species,” Grandpa said. “It’s everything we ever hoped for. It guarantees we will never be placed on the Endangered Species list. It prohibits wildlife scientists from studying, tagging, darting, painting, weighing or even touching us without our permission. And it allows any polar bear in a zoo to return to their homes and families.”
“They gave you everything you wanted, didn’t they?” whined Paul Krugman. “They’ve deregulated an important apex predator that needs both increased government oversight and guaranteed lifetime health care benefits.”
“With all due respect, Professor,” Grandpa said, “we were not given anything. The Senate merely removed the heavy government chains that bound our freedom.”
“Nicely put, Mr. Bear,” said George Will.
“Thank you, Mr. Will.”
“Mr. Bear,” asked Will, “are you worried that other intelligent animals — whales, dolphins, elephants, even pigs — will now come to Washington to demand their emancipation?”
“No, Mr. Will, I don’t see that happening.”
“Why’s that?” Will asked skeptically.
“Those species don’t know how to talk.”
“Point taken, Mr. Bear.”
“Mr. Bear,” asked Stephanopolous, “Senator Barbara Boxer, who cast the lone vote against the Polar Bear Freedom Act, has charged you are not a polar bear at all but a highly paid lobbyist for ExxonMobil. And The Washington Post has a Page 1 story this morning in which Al Gore called you ‘an immoral global-warming denier.'”
“You’re not trying to rile me up by repeating that liberal nonsense, are you, George?” Grandpa said, leaning over the table after a quick wink to George Will.
“No, no, no, no,” Stephanopolous said nervously.
“Look,” Grandpa said. “Environmentalists have been exploiting polar bears for years. We know why they want us on the Endangered Species list. They want to stop all future oil drilling in the Arctic in the name of protecting us and our habitat. We like having oil rigs and pipelines around, George. They don’t hurt us and they sure help to break up the boredom. We like having humans around, too, as long as they don’t shoot us with anything.”
“So what comes next for you, Mr. Bear?” Stephanopolous asked. “Lecture tour? Book deal?”
“All of those things, George,” said Grandpa modestly. “My life’s going to be busy for quite a while. But I am looking forward to meeting Oprah and filling in for Rush. My agent says Pixar has signed to do the bio-pic and next month Sarah Palin and I will be starting our talk show on Fox.”
“I hear you’re moving back to Alaska,” Cokie Roberts asked coyly.
“Yes. I’ll be flying to my new home in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the show to be with my daughter and grandson for Christmas Day.”
“I also hear you’re thinking of running for Congress,” Roberts said.
“Maybe,” said Grandpa, smiling as he gazed at the white marble dome of the U.S. Capitol Building outside the TV studio window. “But I’m thinking beyond that. I’m seriously thinking about a run in 2016. But Rand and I aren’t at liberty to discuss that yet.”
This was a really true story, except for everything that was made up to make it more dramatic or to mock someone. Any resemblance to real politicians, as well as any insult to the religious beliefs of global warming alarmists, was purely intentional. No polar bears, Congress people or celebrities were harmed during the production of this docu-fable.