Who knew the country had gone missing?
After all, when I leashed the dogs for their morning stroll and walked outside — there it was. The country. I think I would have noticed if someone had taken it.
Losing a country isn't like misplacing the car keys. You would think if everything from Secaucus to Fresno suddenly was pilfered by mischievous miscreants people would start worrying about where they were going to park.
Liechtenstein you would probably hide under the couch and hardly anyone would pay much attention. But hiding the United States can't be all that easy. What would you do with Detroit, for example? And why would you want to steal it in the first place?
But according to David Bitner, some fiend has dragooned the nation, perhaps to Russia, or maybe Paraguay, or even Scotland. And he's plenty steamed about it.
My money is on Canada. Canadians have plenty of room to squirrel away another country, and they almost talk like us.
Thus it was that the very first thing Bitner pledged to do after he was elected chairman of the Republican Party of Florida over the weekend was to promise to find out who had taken the country, go to wherever they were keeping it and get it back as soon as possible.
You certainly have to give Bitner credit for thinking big. After an acrimonious campaign for the chairmanship that involved backstabbing, innuendo and anonymous e-mails promising doom and despair no matter who won the job, you would think the incoming leader of Florida's Republicans would be preoccupied with replenishing the party's coffers and rehabilitating the state GOP's image as a haven for on-the-make hucksters.
But not David Bitner, the great country hunter, who promised the grand quest to track down Butte and return it posthaste.
"It starts now," Bitner proclaimed. Well, you can hardly argue the new chairman has time management problems.
Narrowing down the list of usual suspects for Inspector Bitner could be problematic. The country, it might be argued, could have been purloined by any number of people — trial lawyers, teachers unions, tree huggers, Democrats. Alec Baldwin always looks like he is hiding something.
Maybe Bitner might want to check under Keith Olbermann's desk. You never know. The country could be right there, waiting to be rescued.
It's merely a guess, but it is entirely possible chairman Bitner will rule out Republicans as persons of interest in his True Grit-esque hunt for the brigands who may have absconded with the country.
Since Republicans control virtually everything in Florida, it might be reasoned Bitner assumed he already has found part of the country that has gone poof and it's now safe to expand his horizons to rounding up the rest of the land.
Still, since Bitner has become seemingly obsessed with cracking the filched country caper, what will he do if the Seminole Indians send him a letter that says something like: "Look, bub, since you're looking for nations that have been misappropriated, we would sort of like to have Florida back if you don't mind."
This could get complicated.
Nevertheless, David Bitner is ready to saddle up and head out to solve the grand theft America mystery. It's probably only a matter of time before the state chairman tracks down Vermont, wrests Howard Dean's cold clammy fingers away from Montpelier and tries to find a Republican to give it to. There must be at least one.
And therein may arise a problem for David "the Bounty Hunter" Bitner. It's always possible the chairman could come roaring into a place like, say Chicago claiming he is there to give the town back to the country only to find indifference and in fact bewilderment over the idea that something — like an entire city — could have possibly been stolen from the body politic without the participation of an alderman.
What is the chairman to do he if happens upon entire swaths of people who are quite content with having been taken away in the first place and have precious little interest in being given back?
And be given back to whom? Suppose the people who are living in the parts of the country which were taken away don't care much for the folks who are repossessing them? Suppose they snore? Or insist on playing charades? Or listen to strange people on talk radio?
While Bitner's ambition to become the Braveheart of the Panhandle is admirable, perhaps he ought to think a bit smaller and warm up first with trying to take back the Conch Republic of Key West.
Good luck with that.