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Great Questions of Our Times: Should the Bison Be the National Mammal?

Not worth itA few weeks ago, Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota introduced the National Fluff My Constituents Act, a.k.a. the National Bison Legacy Act, to name the bison the National Mammal of the United States. That’s about as clear a way as possible to say you hate humans, Tim Johnson. Why isn’t the Overtaxed Small Business Owner the national mammal, or the fertilized egg? The Senate fucks up everything it tries. But at least it’s tackling this big question. Let’s hear the fors and againsts and try to reach a verdict, because if the Senate gets this question wrong, or right, American unemployment will remain at historically high levels.

The papers in South Dakota have come down squarely on the side on themselves. Mitchell, South Dakota’s Daily Republic chimed in with this eloquent editorial, “Give bison its due, name it national mammal.”

People of European ancestry are chiefly responsible for the buffalo’s near demise a century ago — overhunting was one cause, cattle grazing was another — but people of all colors and backgrounds today tend to see the buffalo for what it really is: A beast that harkens back to our pioneering roots.

As for us, we see the buffalo as noble, steadfast and hearty, all of which are traits we also see in South Dakotans and others who live on the western Great Plains.

We say give the buffalo its due. Push the National Bison Legacy Act onward and into passage.

Put the mighty buffalo upon a pedestal that remains below that of the mighty bald eagle, but upon one that still pays homage to the cultural significance that the rugged creature holds out here on the Plains.

But lo, a counterpoint, from A. Barton Hinkle in the Richmond Times Dispatch! This was reprinted in Reason, so it’s along the lines of “if the government names the bison the national mammal, who knows what it will do next?”

The next thing you know everyone is getting in on the act. Retirees who spend every weekend going to square-dance conventions start a campaign to have the square dance designated the state’s official dance — just as it has been in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and 19 other U.S. states. Then the fishermen demand to have the bluegill (Illinois) or the crappie (Louisiana) named the official state fish. Pretty soon you have an official state butterfly such as the two-tailed Swallowtail (Arizona) or the Karner Blue (New Hampshire) – along with an official state dinosaur (Hadrosaurus foulkii, New Jersey), shell (Crassostrea virginica, Virginia), soil (Harney silt loam, Kansas), sport (jousting, Maryland) and potato festival (the Albemarle Potato Festival in Elizabeth City, N.C.).

Then the schoolkids join in. According to the official state website of Colorado, “In 2007, Jay Baichi’s 4th grade class began the process to get the Western Painted Turtle designated as the Colorado State Reptile. His 4th grade class the next year completed the legal steps and Governor Ritter signed HB 08-1017 on March 18, 2008.” Oh joy. Before you know it, the drunks and practical jokers have had their way and you end up like Nevada — which has, kid you not, an official state artifact: a 2,000-year-old Tule Duck Decoy made out of bulrushes that was found during a cave exploration in 1924. Second prize is two Tule Duck Decoys.

This is what America has in store for it, if it goes down the buffalo road. And it cannot end well. Gibbon wrote all about it in “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” and we are repeating the mistake again 2,000 years later. It’s all on the Internet, you can look it up yourself.

Our verdict: Those were the two most inane articles we’ve ever read.

[Mitchell Daily Republic, Richmond Times Dispatch]

About the author

Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined Wonkette.com in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell
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  1. Barb

    I vote for Bristol to be the national mammal. She weighs more and her fur is thicker, representing the fortitude of American citizens.

      1. Barb

        Tatonka=buffalo. Bristol=buffalo butt.
        Seven more days until her show starts. I can't wait not to watch it.

        1. fartknocker

          I saw the commercial for her show last night. I couldn't move fast enough to mute her before her aimless diatribe spewed out of her fucking piehole. And of course, she had to show us her little bundle of joy.

          1. Fare la Volpe

            I feel sorry for her adorable little baby.

            Only 3 years old and already he has a pimp.

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      If you want to go with a true symbol of our national character, I choose the raccoon.

      Plucky little bastards always sneaking about, eating garbage and stealing stuff. Also, it's native to all 49 states. (Obviously, Hawaii doesn't count.)

      1. viennawoods13

        I have a baby one living in the birch tree right this minute, chewing the shit out of the bark. I almost wish I had a rifle.

    1. Barb

      NounVerb911, I was born in Buffalo.
      Jeff just flew someone out to Chicago to pick up dinner for us tonight as a surprise. Had I known he was going to do this I would have requested Buffalo for some beef on weck.

      I hope the person how has my dinner doesn't take it into the bathroom with him on the plane.

      1. Maman

        I am going to be in Buffalo (Lockport) at the beginning of the month. We have already planned to bring a cooler with us to pack full of weck rolls, white hots and Bison chip dip. Plus, we will need space for the Genny Cream Ale.

          1. Maman

            Only 3 days. We are burying my grandmother who died in February. Just time enough to do the service, have lunch and stop at Bells or Tops (whichever one is still there)

          2. Barb

            I'm sorry about your Grandmother. Most of my mom's ashes are scattered over the falls. I hope this trip heals your heart.

      1. Barb

        I was wrong. It wasn't Chicago. He's having dinner delivered from Colorado. Derr, at least they both begin with a "C."

  2. Come here a minute

    I am going to write a letter to my senators demanding they introduce legislation to put editorial writers on the endangered species list.

  3. Baconzgood

    "Before you know it, the drunks and practical jokers have had their way and you end up like Nevada"

    I didn't know Nevada was cool. I have to rethink this whole south west thing now.

  4. sj660

    You just posted this in order to create "balance" by making funnies at the Democrat party for a change, you librul commie Kenyan!

  5. Baconzgood

    Buffalo are stinky, lazy, stupid….If they joined fantasy football leagues they would be able to vote in most states.

  6. Troglodeity

    Gibbon wrote all about it in “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” and we are repeating the mistake again 2,000 years later.

    Gosh, I never knew that the Roman Empire had a National Mammal. Was it the Pig (Latin)?

    1. SmutBoffin

      That's just what a lieberal like you would want. Every proud conservative endorses the "Rest stop handie with no eye contact".

  7. WhatTheHeck

    The national mammal has a red neck and can be found inhabiting double wides in the national trailer park.

  8. Chichikovovich

    I'm against the proposal. The spirit of America demands that the national mammal should be one that has successfully been rendered extinct. Like the passenger pigeon should be the national bird.

    1. YasserArraFeck

      I would prefer to declare the national mammaries

      Now, this is an interesting aside – while keeping it as PG as Wonkette can aspire to, whose would you nominate?

    2. WhatTheHeck

      “the national mammaries”

      Is that the same as the government teat? The republicans want to reduce those a cup size or two, and dry up the free flowing milk.

  9. actor212

    "Mr. Speaker, I rise on this day in this august chamber to put into law a proposal to designate the brown mass I found in my diaper this morning the official National Turd…"

    1. TootsStansbury

      I was just going to suggest the prairie dog as the national mammal. And here is a fine example of a prairie dog gone horribly wrong.

  10. elburritodeluxe

    So typical of our anti-religious, politically correct lawmakers that they have not named Jesus as our National Diety.

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      Ha! I think technically there may be a law against that.

      Whatevs, you get enough true patriot 'murican congressmen lined up, they can get it repealed.

  11. SexySmurf

    I hate to be the Nerd in the Red Shirt, but bison are not buffaloes. Buffaloes are only found in Africa.

    1. Chichikovovich

      Well, why didn't you say so earlier? OK, the buffalo should absolutely be the national mammal.

  12. BaldarTFlagass

    "A. Barton Hinkle"

    That's a joke name, isn't it? Like "Sillius Soddus." Or "Biggus Dickus?"

    1. SexySmurf

      With a name like that I imagine him writing the op-ed on a type writer while drinking a highball of scotch and wearing a fedora with a press card tucked in the hatband.

      And then he talked really fast about a "dame" with "jake gams."

    2. MosesInvests

      I have a vewy good fwiend in Wome named Biggus Dickus!
      (Sorry, Python Tourette's-h/t to anniegetyerfun)

  13. vodkamuppet

    Uhhh….Native Americans are mammals too and Europeans killed just as many of them and all they got was Columbus Day.

    1. YasserArraFeck

      "I came all the way to The New World and all I got was this lousy redskin……"

      1. Chichikovovich

        "I came all the way to Fort Amherst and all I got was this lousy blanket."

        "(Not even washed….)"

  14. Beowoof

    I think we need a selection committee to name the biggest douche bag in the republican party. Just look at a partial list of potential candidates:
    Jan Brewer
    Mitt Rmoney
    Dick Cheney, (Although this maybe a special category, Special Award for Long Term Dark Sided Douchery).
    Jim DeMint
    Larry Craig
    Mark Sanford.
    Jeb Bush
    Orrin Hatch
    David Vitter etc etc etc
    Then you could have a media douch category: not limited to republicans
    Nancy Grace
    Matt Lauer
    Rush Limpbaugh
    Glenn Beck
    Bill O'Lielly
    Eric Ericson
    Sean Hannity
    Greta Van Sustern
    Fox Friends entire cast

    I could go on for days with nominations. Hmmmm, I guess that's point, why are you wasting time with this bullshit.

  15. Estproph

    I think the Blithering Idiot should be the national mammal, since they have almost replaced all other mammals in the US at this point.

  16. Chichikovovich

    This is what America has in store for it, …. And it cannot end well. Gibbon wrote all about it in “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” and we are repeating the mistake again 2,000 years later.

    Well, though Gibbon was entirely silent on bison-related topics, he did argue that a huge contributor to the fall of the Roman Empire was the rise of Christianity and its adoption as a state religion. So perhaps this A. Barton Hinkle fellow is more correct than he imagines: Gibbon was describing what America has in store for it.

  17. BaldarTFlagass

    Well, congress has to do this kind of shit so they can stay away from doing anything meaningful while they are in session. Like, say, jobs or the economy.

  18. Mumbletypeg

    we see the buffalo as noble, steadfast and hearty, all of which are traits we also see in South Dakotans and others

    Did they remember to ask Lee Greenwood if he gives a fap?

  19. vodkamuppet

    Do we have a national triple processed re-constituted cheese based food product yet?
    I nominate Rick Santorum.

  20. Nostrildamus

    I nominate the sodomized, dead penguin as our national mammal as a salute to American science education.

  21. Blueb4sunrise

    My experience with bison-burgers leads me to conclude that there's not enough fat on bison for it to be the national mammal.

  22. Fare la Volpe

    Well Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo to you too!

    1. anniegetyerfun

      He does, and as embarrassed as I am to admit this, they are delish. He does raise them right.

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        I was not aware that they were available for consumption until I chanced upon a "Ted's" in Columbus OH right before a Bela Fleck concert last August. Agreed, tastylicious!

  23. BlueStateLibel

    An alien from space would think Congress fritters away its days coming up with pointless legislation and that alien would be right.

  24. mavenmaven

    The Republicans just want an official mammal so that they can don the furries outfit and pretend its patriotic, like they do with lady hose pretending to be 1776.

  25. OneYieldRegular

    Where will this madness stop??? Next thing you know, there'll be an official cola of the 2012 Olympic Games.

    (Only tangentially on-topic, but I might was well take this rare instance of discourse about buffalo to recommend a terrific novel about their near extinction caused by the ancestors of the people who now want them honored: Butcher's Crossing, by John Williams).

  26. barto

    What about the official state appliance? I nominate the vibrator – specifically the dual-lobed Titillator 3000 (9V model, not the woefully underpowed 6V). This sublime device has amused and delighted tens of thousands of South Dakotians. Bison? Not so much.

  27. SenileAgitation

    The answer is yes. Slow witted, shaggy, herd loving and great with french fries, you know this mammal is proud and at least knows its free.

  28. Steverino247

    OK, name another mammal whose penis has been on the nickel as long as the bison's.

    That's right. Look it up: Buffalo Dick Nickel.

    (OK, so it's the prepuce tassel, but you know what it covers)

    1. Buckminster

      I bet Montana's idiot Representative Denny Rehberg is kicking himself for not thinking up this crappy piece of legislation.

    1. TribecaMike

      This native of Worcester and long-time Taj fan says "Thanks, I didn't know that!"

      I had the blues so bad one time
      It put my face in a permanent frown
      You know I'm feeling so much better
      I could cakewalk into town

  29. TribecaMike

    Apropos of nada, in the late eighties, my wife and I bought our one and only auto, a 1971 VW Camper, from the bison keeper at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park which he'd used for years to haul manure. Took a bit of cleaning out and electrical re-wiring, but it got us from Frisco to Kansas City, MO, where alas "Old Stinky" croaked from the heroic though foolhardy endeavor of crossing the Rockies. We didn't know VW Campers essentially had the same engine as a Bug and drove that critter into the ground. The dear thing was sold soon after at a Kansas City HIV-AIDS charity auction. You just can't beat that new bison smell, nor totally erase it.

    Anyway, thanks for listening and yes I did say "Frisco." Nyah nyah!

  30. didgen

    I have to say the buffalo may object to being one step below a carrion eater… just sayin.

Comments are closed.