Who would have ever imagined that our much-beloved, big, fat, lumbering, harmless, vegetarian, gentle manatee would be transformed into a tool of delusional tea party alternative universe international intrigue?
What's next, accusing the Muppets' Miss Piggy of running a Jane Fonda-funded bordello in Washington?
Perhaps this is a classic case of no good public policy idea goes without being subjected to an addled star chamber of paranoia. And, yes, you're right, Glenn Beck, the Oprah Winfrey of the lunatic fringe, will be making an appearance shortly.
This certainly seemed simple enough until the tea party crowd decided to turn Citrus County's Kings Bay into an aquatic Area 51. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, otherwise known as the environmental Stasi for wanting to engage in such radical stuff as protecting fish and wildlife, proposed a plan to better protect the 500 or so manatees who call the warm waters of Kings Bay their home. The nerve of some mammals.
The proposed rules came about because some dopes love to run boats at high speeds through the area. That is a problem since manatees, which are slower than Sarah Palin contemplating a U.S. history textbook, can't get out of the way.
Over the past decade, 13 of the sea cows have been killed by reckless boaters. So the proposed regulations would end a summer water sport zone and close other areas as needed to provide better protections for a species that has no known predators — except for humans and irrationality.
Seems simple enough. Seems reasonable enough. Ah, but that was before the Republican Party's answer to Yosemite Sam got wind of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plot for world domination.
Edna Mattos, who leads the Citrus County Tea Party Patriots, railed against the proposed manatee protections, arguing they violated the tenets of the Bible and the Bill of Rights, which taken to its ridiculous extreme (and why not?) would probably make St. Francis of Assisi a Marxist tool of the Trilateral Commission.
The Madame Defarge of Citrus County fretted the Fish and Wildlife Service's proposed manatee protections are a capitulation to the United Nations' Agenda 21 conspiracy to impose a world government on the populace under the duplicitous guise of trying to protect nature.
You never know. Once you start safeguarding a rain forest or two, can Fidel Castro lighting up a Cohiba in the Oval Office be that far behind?
Who would have guessed James Bond nemesis Ernst Blofeld was sitting over in the Fish and Wildlife offices, stroking his cat and conspiring to rule the world through a 1,200-pound pile of floating blubber?
The notion the U.N.'s Agenda 21 environmental program is really a dark, treacherous confederacy to bring America under the thumb of Dr. No has been a pet fantasy of Glenn Beck and his hand-wringing fellow travelers for quite a while. Mattos and her tea party lemmings have fallen for the talk show weeper's unhinged theory that there is a black helicopter hovering behind every water hyacinth-chewing manatee in Kings Bay.
If Citrus County residents feel the proposed federal rules protecting the beasts are unfair, or too broadly drawn, or too much of an imposition on those who want to boat in Kings Bay, fine. That's why socialist/Marxist/despotic agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service solicit public input regarding proposed rule changes and regulations on matters like trying to spare manatees from being run over by idiots in speedboats.
Tea party acolytes frequently whine that their views are not taken seriously and that they are unfairly dismissed as a cabal of dim-witted, extremist malcontents. Gee, why would anyone arrive at that conclusion?
If the tea party rabble with pitchforks want to be taken seriously in the nation's political discourse, they need to resist the temptation to get their tin foil in a wad and react to every benign government idea or proposed regulation as if it were a case of Red Dawn meets Auric Goldfinger.
Contrary to the twisted efforts of Glenn Beck and the rest of the Plan 9 From Outer Space community's effort to suggest saving a herd of manatees is akin to the subjugation of mankind, it is safe to say United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is not thinking: "Okay, once we get Citrus County into the re-education camp, it's only a matter of time before we conquer Sopchoppy."