User ID: Password:
   Site Map  |  Home  |  Bill Steigerwald  |  Column

Bill Steigerwald Bill Steigerwald, 12/12/2009 [Archive]

GP Bear Goes to Washington Ė The True Story of a Freedom Loving Carnivore

G.P. Bear Goes to Washington Ė Parts 1 through 4

George Orwell used satire and talking pigs to mock utopian socialists in "Animal Farm." Now, just in time for the Copenhagen climate conference, ClimateGate and the coming 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 ends, Steigerwald and his son Joe have created "G.P. Bear Goes to Washington: The True Story of a Freedom-Loving Carnivore."

A 12-part serialized "docu-fable," it features real issues, real people and a magical, eloquent, media-savvy polar bear who understands his species is in far greater danger from the interventions of the federal government, Barbara Boxer, Al Gore, Leonard DiCaprio and overzealous wildlife scientists than from anthropogenic climate change.

To Editors: Two new episodes of this old-fashioned serial Ė between 550 and 700 words long Ė will be posted for the next 5 days. For our newspaper clients, our suggestion is to start the serial in print in your opinion section (Part 1 or Parts 1 & 2) and then jump it to your Web edition and serialize it there each day until completion (while cross-promoting it from the print side). The serial is timed to end Christmas Day and can easily be broken into 12, six, four or three parts, if you wish, which would allow you to wait until closer to Christmas to begin running it.

Parts 1 through 4 follow:

G. P. Bear goes to Washington: The true story of a freedom-loving carnivore

Part 1

"Are we not polar bears?"

By Bill and Joe Steigerwald

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

This is a 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, is purely intentional.

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.

" Ö 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 Ė ringed seals. If we donít 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, Iím 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 science, Al Gore?"

"Donít get upset, Dad," said Mother, looking up from her latest copy of Reason magazine. "Itís 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 canít hear you."

"I know," Grandpa said with a smile. "They live far away in New York and Washington. Thatís why they donít 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."

"Donít you worry," Grandpa chuckled. "I just get mad when humans make us look like sissies who canít handle a little change in the weather. Weíre polar bears, for Peteís sake. Weíre not helpless victims. We donít need the government, Keith Olbermann, Greenpeace, Leonardo DiCaprio or anyone else to protect us from Mother Nature.

"If humans just left us alone Ė and if their scientists stopped chasing us with helicopters and shooting us with dart guns Ė weíd be fine."

"Why donít you go to where the humans on TV live and yell at them?" wondered Junior. "Everyone always listens when you yell."

"They wouldnít believe a thing Iíd tell them. But thatís a good idea, Junior," Grandpa said, clicking off the nightlight. "A darn good idea. "

Part 1 of 12 installments. Tomorrow: Part 2, "Junior gets brainwashed."

G.P. Bear goes to Washington: The true story of a freedom-loving carnivore

Part 2

"Junior gets brainwashed"

By Bill and Joe Steigerwald

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

"Guess what I learned today?" Junior asked as he came running in from school.

"I canít imagine," Grandpa mumbled.

"Shush, Dad," said Mother. "What did you learn, Junior?"

"I learned all about Ďglobal melting,í " 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? Rosie OíDonnell?"

"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."

"Thatís 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 Ďstinkt if humans keep burning stuff like coal. Itís really scary, Grandpa."

"Principal Hansenís even crazier than Al Gore," Grandpa said to Mother so Junior couldnít hear. "Didnít I tell you that boy should have been home-schooled?"

Later that same night, after midnight, Grandpa was at his desk sending his usual round of disparaging e-mails to the politicians in Washington when Juniorís cry pierced the stillness.

"Grandpa!" Junior wailed. "Help me. Iím burning!"

Grandpa and Mother raced to Juniorís bedside. Junior was crying in his sleep. "Help me, Grandpa," he pleaded mournfully. "Iím too young to melt."

"Junior, wake up," Grandpa said, shaking him. "Youíre dreaming."

Juniorís 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 isnít 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, "Iím 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 Ė Ďbears of the sea.í We can swim 200 miles. We can walk 100 miles a day.

"We learned how to live on this frozen wasteland at the top of the world thousands of years before humans discovered fire. There are 25,000 of us alive today Ė twice as many as 50 years ago. We are not going to become extinct Ė no matter what Principal Hansen and her computers say. Now go to sleep Ė and no more silly nightmares."

"That was no nightmare," Grandpa whispered angrily to Mother. "That boyís being brainwashed by a bunch of kooks."

"Thatís all the schools teach," said Mother. "Itís 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. "Thatís pathetic. Itís time somebody stood up to lunatics like Hansen and their doomsday stories."

Parts 2 of 12 installments. Tomorrow: Part 3, "Act of Endangerment."

G. P. Bear goes to Washington: The true story of a freedom-loving carnivore

Part 3

"Act of Endangerment"

By Bill and Joe Steigerwald

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, Mother and Junior were at Erik the Redís 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. Theyíre all part of what I call ĎThe Axis of Environmentalism,í " 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. Theyíll force us to change how we live, what we eat and where we can travel. Itíll be just like weíre being kept in a federal zoo."

"But weíll we get free food and health care," said a young male bear sipping on his sixth Labatt Blue.

"Donít be foolish," Grandpa said. "Whatever the government gives us wonít really be free. Once weíre on that list, theyíll have us all wearing radio collars and carrying government ID cards. Weíll 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 wonít take our snowmobiles or TVs or anything else," Grandpa snapped impatiently. "Humans donít know we have those things because they canít see them. If they did know, theyíd take them away from us in a Newfoundland minute."

"Who will tell those humans in Washington we donít need their help?" someone asked. "And donít 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. "Iíll do it," he said in a quiet but confident voice. "Iíll explain how tomorrow night at the town meeting."

Part 3 of 12 installments. Tomorrow: Part 4, "Polar bear democracy."

G.P. Bear goes to Washington: The true story of a freedom-loving carnivore

Part 4

"Polar bear democracy"

By Bill and Joe Steigerwald

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

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. "Iím 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 Ö."

"You canít possibly ride an iceberg to Washington," interrupted the Mayor, who sat at a long table with the townís 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.

"Itíll get us close enough. Then weíll swim. It shouldnít be more than 200 miles."

" ĎWeí? " the Mayor asked suspiciously. "Who is Ďweí?"

"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 Ė our children and grandchildren who will lose their freedoms."

"But you canít just walk into the United States Senate," said the Mayor. "Youíll be arrested. Or shot."

"Iíve already solved that problem, Mayor," said Grandpa, raising his voice over the murmuring crowd. "Iíve been communicating with a senator by e-mail. Heís 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 donít believe you or your phony computers. Garbage in, garbage out."

"We cannot permit this, this, this Ö 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.

"Iím 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.

Part 4 of 12 installments. Tomorrow: Part 5, "Voyage of the Polar Bears."

Bill Steigerwald is a former columnist and associate editor at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review whoís also worked at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Bill at bsteige@verizon.net If you're not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or post this column on the web. Distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Sales sales@cagle.com (805) 969-2829.



Download Bill Steigerwald's color photo - Download Bill Steigerwald's black and white mug shot photo

We do not accept and will not review unsolicited submissions from cartoonists.
Sales & Information: (805) 969-2829 sales@cagle.com
Billing Information: (805) 969-2829billing@cagle.com
Technical Support: support@cagle.com

FREE cartoons for your website if you're already a paying print subscriber!
Artwork and columns are copyrighted by each creator. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. [Privacy Policy]