Get ready for a bison stampede
A piece of national legislation that has a chance to pass with overwhelming bipartisan support.
No political posturing needed. No incessant campaign rhetoric. No threats of vetoes and stalemates. No rants about immigration reform, gun control, Iraq, Obamacare, Bowe Bergdahl or whatever other topic of righteous outrage might be simmering today.
The bill, recently introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), is the National Bison Legacy Act. The purpose: to make the bison the National Mammal of the U.S.
Looks like a no-brainer, eh? How can you not endorse the country’s largest land mammal, the ultimate symbol of freedom?
Plus, the vote would function as a belated “Oh, we’re sorry” for hunting the majestic animals to near-extinction in our frothy-mouthed quest to tame the West (and displace those pesky humans who already lived here) a century and a half ago.
What’s not to like about bison (also known as buffaloes in biologically imprecise circles or at University of Colorado football games)? They’re brawny. They’re beautiful. They’re survivors. They’re as American as baseball, apple pie and tax breaks for the rich.
But somehow, I smell controversy brewing — or is that merely the pungent odor of buffalo chips smoldering on the open prairie?
Here’s what I expect to happen on the bill’s merry path to officialdom:
Michigan will push for the wolverine, an animal known for its ferocity, pugnacity and somewhat revolting habit of gorging on its prey and then defecating on what’s left, so nobody else can eat it.
The creators of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” will nominate the moose, the better to stomp on Boris Badenov, Natasha and Vladimir Putin.
The Rabies Awareness Federation will suggest bats, foxes, skunks or raccoons.
The Save Our Aquatic Animals coalition will float the idea of seals, manatees, otters or beavers.
Prickly Creatures Inc. will cast a sharply enthusiastic vote for porcupines, the quintessential don’t-mess-with-me animal.
Big-game trophy hunters will espouse the virtues of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and pronghorn — no torsos needed; just the heads will suffice, thanks.
The U.S. Big Cat Crusaders will sink their fangs into legislators on behalf of mountain lions, bobcats and lynx.
The Man’s Best Friend Institute will champion Labrador retrievers, coonhounds and American pit bulls — hey, who says the national mammal has to be wild?
Predators R Us will back wolves, coyotes, badgers or weasels.
The Punxsutawney, Pa., city council will dig hard for groundhogs/woodchucks/marmots.
The Vermin and Varmints are People Too Alliance will promote prairie dogs, rats, mice, voles, gophers, possums and bird-feeder-raiding squirrels.
The mayor of Chicago will support Da Bears.
And Daniel Snyder, owner of Washington’s NFL franchise and a member of the Billionaire White Man Club, will firmly state that he thinks Redskins would make excellent national mammals. At which point, he will be trampled into oblivion by a herd of bison.
Scott Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.