They Gave Us the Bird


(I recently read, in a list of Thanksgiving trivia, that Benjamin Franklin opposed the selection of the bald eagle as the national bird, feeling strongly that the wild turkey made for a better symbol of America.  Nodding off, I had the following dream – as a dream, I cannot vouch for its historical accuracy  …)

VOICE OVER:   Today on C-Span: Ongoing coverage from the Articles of Confederation on the adoption of the Constitution as introduced by Thomas Jefferson as the frame work for the new government.

JAMES MADISON:  The gentleman from New York yields his time to the gentleman from Pennsylvania.

BEN FRANKKLIN:  Thank you, gentleman from New York.  I’d like to take this opportunity to again voice my displeasure over the selection of the bald eagle as the national bird.

JAMES MADISON:  (banging his gavel) We closed this discussion yesterday.

BEN FRANKLIN:  But I’d like to reopen it.

JAMES MADISON:  But we voted on it

BEN FRANKLIN:  Do I not have the floor?

JAMES MADISON:  (sighing) You do.

BEN FRANKLIN:  Very well, then.   I move that we strike down the measure passed yesterday naming the bald eagle as the national bird and replace it with bill number 387, which I introduced earlier today, which would name the wild turkey as the rightful national bird.

JAMES MADISON:  Bill number 387?

BEN FRANKLIN:  Yes, bill number 387.

JAMES MADISON:  How did you come up with number 387?

BEN FRANKLIN:  Why, that’s the bill number!

JAMES MADISON:  You can’t just arbitrarily assign a number of your own choosing to a bill!

BEN FRANKLIN:  Show me the procedure.

JAMES MADISON:  But 387?  Come on!

ALEXANDER HAMILTION: (interrupting) I move that we rename bill 387 to be measure 43B.

JAMES MADISON:  Never mind the number, Hamilton.  Mr. Franklin, we voted yesterday to name the bald eagle as the national bird.  The matter is closed.

BEN FRANKLIN:  But I fear we are making a terrible mistake!  We need to reopen the matter!

THOMAS JEFFERSON:  Gentlemen, we are trying to establish a new government!  Checks and balances, inalienable rights of men, branches of government!    And we’re still wasting time debating the national bird?

DAVEY CROCKETT (with coonskin cap on head):   Representing the good people of the state of Tennessee, I’d like to go on record in stating my support for bill number 387

JAMES MONROE:  Davey Crockett?  This is 1785 – have you even been born?  Plus, Tennessee isn’t a state yet!

CHARLES BRONSON:   I move that Mr. Crockett’s testimony be stricken from the record on account of historical inaccuracy.

JAMES MONROE:  Charles Bronson?

JAMES MADISON:  (banging his gavel) James Monroe, you are out of order!  Plus you are confusing viewers who can’t remember the difference between James Madison and James Monroe.  Mr. Franklin, you had the floor.

BEN FRANKLIN:  Thank you, James Mason.  Now, the wild turkey is a far more respected and nobler bird than the bald eagle.  Granted, the bald eagle is better looking, I’ll give you that.   But that’s transparent.   I once knew a wild turkey that could do algebra, let’s see pretty boy eagle do that.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON:  I’d like to request a fifteen minute recess so I can duel Raymond Burr.

JAMES MADISON:  You mean Aaron Burr.  Raymond Burr is the actor who played Perry Mason.

ALEXANDER HAMILTION:  Precisely.  Maybe Raymond won’t be as good a shot as Aaron.

GEORGE WASHINGTON:  As the Father of this country, may I make a suggestion.

JAMES MADISON:  OK, Dad.

GEORGE WASHINGTON:  I move we retain the bald eagle as the national bird, and in the spirit of compromise, name Ben Franklin the Uncle of the Country.

BEN FRANKLIN:  I accept!

GEORGE WASHINGTON:  (under his breath) The bat shit crazy, syphilitic uncle ….

JAMES MADISON:  All those in favor, say Eye!

JAMES MONROE:  Isn’t it say “Aye”?

JAMES MADISON:  It’s spelled “aye”, but it’s pronounced “eye”.

CHARLES BRONSON:  Nose!

JAMES MADISON:  Get him out of here!

(The rest, as they say, is history, and our government remains the same efficient, well oiled machine to this day)

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