Bill Steigerwald Bill Steigerwald, 2/3/2008 [Archive]

Lunch With Three Polar Bears - Opinion

Who's our congressman?' asked mama polar bear during a light lunch on an ice floe somewhere off Alaska.

'Beats me,' said papa polar bear. 'Pass the walrus calf.'

'I want to send a letter complaining about Joey being attacked again by those government wildlife scientists,' said mama polar bear.

'Let it go,' said papa polar bear. 'Your brother still stinks of humans. But at least the sedation's taking longer to wear off this time, so he hasn't been his usual testy, cranky self.'

'You'd be stressed too if you were chased by a helicopter, shot with a tranquilizer dart and had 'X19788' tattooed on the inside of your mouth when you were only 5 years old,' said mama polar bear.

'At least now he can no longer claim that first encounter was an alien abduction,' said papa polar bear.

'Cool it, kids," said grandpa polar bear. "Those scientists are just doing their job -- like the ones we saw on '60 Minutes' two weeks ago.

"If it weren't for their longitudinal studies, we wouldn't know how many of us live up here or that anthropomorphic global warming is a threat to our iconic existence.'

'Well, I'm sick of being harassed,' said mama polar bear. 'For my entire life they've been drugging us, weighing us, checking our fat content -- poking into our sex lives. Now they've got Scott Pelley of CBS flying around with them.'

"At least they're not putting radio collars on us or painting numbers on our backs,' said papa polar bear.

'Or shooting us anymore,' reminded grandpa polar bear. 'In my day, we had a lot more than mad scientists, biased TV reporters and melting pack ice to worry about. We were daily target practice for sports hunters or bored sailors.

'I bet there weren't 8,000 of us left in the whole Arctic in 1970. Now that we're protected, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates we're up to 25,000 -- though 60 percent of us live in Canada, those hosers.'

'I'd rather take my chances with hunters than put up with this darn population explosion,' said papa polar bear. 'You can't go 20 miles without bumping into a mother and her spoiled cubs. Go into town for a little Dumpster diving, and it's so crowded you gotta take a number.'

'Quit griping, son,' said grandpa polar bear. 'Our species has finally hit the jackpot. Humans were our only enemy. Now we're the official mascots of the climate-change industrial complex. We're as charismatic as whales. We've got lobbyists all over Washington.'

'It won't last,' said papa polar bear. 'Wait till everyone finds out the ice cap naturally gets thinner or thicker all the time. Wait till they all realize we can swim 30 miles before breakfast. Wait till they see two-thirds of us haven't died by 2050 because of a little global warming.

'And what if '60 Minutes' turns on us and catches us eating baby seals?" fretted mama polar bear.

'Don't be such alarmists,' said grandpa polar bear. 'Al Gore will never let it happen.

'The mainstream media, politicians and school kids have been completely suckered. We're apex victims of modern mankind. Senators from New Jersey are working to put us on the Endangered Species list. Congress is talking about doing a study to make sure we won't be hurt before they allow those new oil and gas leases to be auctioned in the Chuckchi Sea. It's only a matter of time before we get Pell Grants for polar bears.

'So stop worrying, kids,' said grandpa polar bear, slipping off the ice floe for a little five mile swim. 'We've never had it so good.'

Bill Steigerwald is a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. E-mail Bill at steigerwald@caglecartoons.com.© Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, All Rights Reserved.

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