Jumping on the Bush/Foghorn Leghorn Bandwagon

(Originally ran on January 26th, 2004)

If George W. Bush wants to be reelected this year, he'd better find himself a well-trained chicken.

Last night I was bumping around online looking for odd news stories. (Odd in a "hey, that's funny" way, not odd in a "the world is crumbling at my feet and when it's done all that will be left is the lingering memory of the Kindergarten Cop becoming Governor," way).

Anyway, according to the good people at Yahoo, Winston Churchill's parrot is still alive. I found this quite surprising, since the honorable Mr. Churchill made his mark during a World War that took place sixty years ago. I also found it surprising because I didn't know the man owned a parrot.

Apparently this bird, which is now over 100 years old, was well known for making lewd and profane statements about Hitler. Now we know what Churchill was doing in his spare time. While Ben Affleck was out fighting the Japanese to save Kate Beckinsale, Churchill was teaching his parrot to say "screw Hitler."

I can't help but wonder whether Hitler had a parrot of his own. Did he and Churchill take turns sending obscene recordings back and forth to taunt each other? Did Mussolini get in on it, too? Were there cold nights in occupied Paris when the only sounds that could be heard were the nasal tones of winged trash-talkers? Actually, something tells me that Hitler wouldn’t have been a Parrot kind of guy. It seems more rational to me to picture Hitler going home after a long day at the office to change the litter box for an obese cat named Uter.

The more I think about it, the more I feel the whole animal sidekick concept has legs. They could revolutionize the world of political mascots. Sure, we've already got the donkey and the elephant, those faceless silhouettes that our own political parties have embraced for years, but until Howard Dean starts kissing babies while riding Bob the Burro or Dick Cheney arrives at the Republican National Convention astride a three-ton elephant named Petunia, I think they're selling themselves short.

Besides, candidates should be entitled to their own mascot. If Churchill had his parrot, then John Kerry deserves his orangutan. Al Sharpton ought to have his iguana. Joe Lieberman could get a cute little ferret. It's too bad Jesse Jackson isn't running this year; I'd be all over the "Jackson/Wally the Toad Prince" ticket.

Maybe if they really wanted to have some fun, they could all get chickens and have some good old-fashioned cockfights at the party conventions. The people at punkvoter.com would be pretty excited about that. Rolling Stone magazine points out they were the only people at the Iowa caucuses with red Mohawks. What a way to reach out to the younger generation, eh? They could even include the chickens in the televised debates this fall. Think about it, do you think anyone would want to mess with George Bush after seeing his chicken Steve open up a can of Whoop-A on some lowly left-wing hen?

Tony Blair should get in on the act, too. Things haven't been too pretty for him lately. If the backlash from the war wasn't bad enough, some naked guy just finished hiking across England to advocate public nudity. The dude sauntered across 900 miles of English countryside in a pair of socks and hiking boots. Do we really need our closest national ally going au natural on all of us? You think this guy would have finished his stroll if Blair could've sic'ed his wild boar Otis on him?

If any of the candidates has a tough time coming up with an available animal, the city of Chicago has plenty of rats to spare. CNN.com reported that at least thirteen public schools cafeterias in the Chicago area have shut down due to rat evidence.

Back when I lived in south Chicago, I came across lots of odd things, but I don't remember meeting any rats. Once I met the polygamist great-grandson of "Lucky" Luciano. He claimed to be the original inventor of the Stealth Bomber, but the government stole his idea. He had no rats, as I recall. Another time my landlord skipped town shortly after the mysterious disappearance of his wife, surely a rat-like response.

Come to think of it, I do remember seeing wild chickens roaming the streets of Joliet, Illinois. It's too bad; if I had known President Bush needed one, I would have picked one up.