By Bill Steigerwald
“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 Arlen Specter 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.