Inside the Beltway: Calls for a ‘national animal’

Story Topics

If the bald eagle weren’t our “national animal,” what would be the most popular choice for the role? The bison wins, according to a YouGov poll released Sunday, cited by 22 percent of the respondents. Mountain lions were in second place with 16 percent of the vote, followed by bears (12 percent), doves (11 percent), turkeys (9 percent) and rattlesnakes (3 percent.)

Skunks were in seventh place with a pungent 2 percent of the vote, followed by a squabbling stampede of squirrels, alligators, woodpeckers, who also feasted upon 2 percent, or bits of it, anyway. Badgers, beavers, raccoons, moose and coyotes each scrambled away with 1 percent of the vote, or a portion therein.

“The results would disappoint Benjamin Franklin, who pressed for the turkey to be the national animal of the United States,” observes poll analyst Peter Moore. Interestingly enough, turkeys were the third choice of history-minded Republicans, but fifth for Democrats.

Members of the National Bison Legacy Act Coalition, on the other hand, should be pleased with the findings. The organization — which includes 39 zoos, wildlife and conservation advocates, American Indian and academic interest groups — is promoting the National Bison Legacy Act.

The legislation, introduced before the Senate in 2011 by Sens. Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican and Tim Johnson, South Dakota Democrat; and in the House by William Lacy Clay, Missouri Democrat, and Jeff Fortenberry, Nebraska Republican, would designate the American bison as the “National Mammal of the United States.”

PLOTLINE

Closing diplomatic facilities from Algeria to Bangladesh: Does such a sweeping move actually empower al Qaeda? Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked that very question to Michael V. Hayden, former director of the CIA and the NSA.

“Well, that’s the cost of doing business,” the retired Air Force general replied. “I understand the argument that it seems to, as you say, empower them more than perhaps they are really capable of performing. On the other hand, you have a real danger to Americans. You want to be cautious.”

He added, “And let me add an additional factor in here. The announcement itself may also be designed to interrupt al Qaeda planning, to put them off stride. To put them on the back foot, to let them know that we’re alert and that we’re onto at least a portion of this plot line.”

FOR THE LEXICON

“AJAM”

Acronym for Al Jazeera America, set to debut on Aug. 20. The cable news network reports they have recruited more than 1,000 people to participate in a Google Hangout on Monday night with incoming news anchor Joie Chen and “special correspondent” Soledad O’Brien to parse out what kind of content should go into “America Tonight,” their nightly public affairs program.

Of note, and curious. Ms. O’Brien, a former CNN anchorwoman, was billed as “CEO, Starfish Media” during her appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

POLITICAL SPECTACLES

Behold, it’s the “hipster cowboy.” That’s the new name for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who wore Brooklyn-style, black horn-rimmed glasses during his appearance at the fifth annual Red State Gathering on Saturday in New Orleans. Observers called the little fashion tweak a “game changer” and a sure sign Mr. Perry planned a White House run no matter what doubting pollsters say.

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