By Bill Steigerwald
“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.”