Washington DC - Smokey the Bear has decided to retire. It has been many a coons age since the iconic bear first appeared before the Senate in Washington to answer questions regarding his qualifications to be Americas top forest fire prevention spokesman. During his tenure generations of boys and girls have grown up heeding his sacred ruling, "Only You can Prevent Forest Fires." Indeed, his words have become the law of the outdoor world.
But after recently coming under fire from politicians and critters alike, Smokey the Bear has announced his plans to retire and step down at the end of the month.
Smokey the Bear had his share of troubles recently. There have been complaints in the media and inside the parks by those who believed that he was past his prime, and that he abused his powers. There were also whispers that he abused the smaller forest critters, which pretty much meant all of them.
And there were the rumors and innuendoes from others who questioned Smokey's wild lifestyle, that he spent too many nights alone with his buddies in the woods, and with his decision not to hibernate during the long winter months with Mrs. Bear. Perhaps his biggest mistake was when he recently tried to change his motto to, "Only you can prevent forest fires, except of course in California."
But none of that matters now. With his retirement Smokey will remove his ranger hat for the last time, contented to spend his remaining years running naked and wild. Smokey happily noted one side benefit of not being required to wear his ranger hat. Now he will no longer have to hide from curious onlookers when nature calls.
And while Smokey the Bear may have changed during his long tenure, the political atmosphere in Washington certainly changed also. Gone will be the soft ball questions Smokey received. Questions that focused solely on Smokey's ability to do his job and not on his lifestyle. In those days there were no "don't ask, don't tell" policy for critters. Instead there were easy questions such as " Are your feet really big enough to stamp out a forest fire?" or the teaching moment from Sen. Hatride of New York who asked, "Tell me the truth Mr. Bear, is it not true that dousing a campfire with water before heading home is the smart thing for humans to do?"
And so it is into a much more hostile political scene that Olive the Owl will find herself today as her confirmation before the Senate begins. Already some member of the Senate committee intend to grill Ms. Owl over her statement that "a wise owl, given her lifetime of wise owl experience, will be able to better promote fire safety than other forest creatures, such as the stupid hedgehog."