25 MARCH 2013
A PRESIDENTIAL PARDON
Famous Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil
Punxsutawney, PA -- It all started on the 2nd of February, 2013 - Groundhog Day. The one hundred and twenty-seventh annual Groundhog Day, to be exact. Punxsutawney Phil, the world-famous groundhog, emerged from his burrow to view the weather. To make matters clear, his job is to determine whether it's sunny or overcast. That's more complicated than it may seem, as weak sunshine is not uncommon in that part of the country. Determining on which side of the sunny-cloudy line the Groundhog Day weather falls can be a close call.
But that was not the case on Groundhog day seven weeks ago. The town of Punxsutawney was under heavy cloud cover. And humans, as they traditionally do, interpret the Groundhog's indisputable findings to mean that spring is right around the corner. Everyone cheered loudly as the large, furry rodent graciously acknowledged the crowd.
The festivities are captured on video below:
Mild weather followed, as expected. But then came a cold spell. And then another. The chill stretched into the midwest and even to the west. People became frustrated. They looked for scapegoats. Instead of the humans who translate Phil's observations into predictions, they decided to point the finger at - you guessed it - the innocent rodent!
The stories in the media were shocking. Typically, they read like this one out of Ohio:
On Feb. 2, Phil – looking very tired of his day job — didn't see his shadow which generally means that an early spring is on the horizon. Spring arrived last Wednesday (March 20), but that hasn't stopped the East Coast from being blanketed by a snowy mess. Temperatures in parts of Ohio are expected to remain in the mid-to-late 30s, until this weekend.
As such, Bulter County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser brought charges against the furry (alleged) criminal for lying to America. “Punxutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe spring would come early,” Gmoser wrote in his indictment. He is calling that Phil to be executed.
Phil has been charged with “misrepresentation of spring” thus a felony “against the peace and dignity in the state of Ohio.”
Soon news stories, blogs, and opinion pieces, both online and in print, throughout the USA and even in Europe, reported on more persons calling for Punxsutawney Phil to be severely punished for his "faulty forecast." Never mind the fact that Phil didn't forecast anything. He simply announced that no hint of a shadow greeted him when he rose from his nest on the nation's only holiday devoted to a rodent.
The unjust accusations were not lost on other rodents. And quickly the nephew of Co-President Diddley Squat contacted Phil and offered to defend him. In a public statement issued Saturday (23 March), P. Legume Bean, Hamster-at-Law (pictured at left), wrote:
This is an outrage against rodents everywhere. It can easily be proved that our distinguished relative Punxsutawney Phil has been correct a higher percentage of the time than any human forecaster. There was no bad faith involved. Phil did not see his shadow and reported accordingly.
But the uproar continued, leaving Phil's counsel P. Legume Bean (who is affectionately known as Peanut to family members) with just one option - that of appealing to his Uncle Diddley for a Presidential pardon for his client. And so he did.
The pardon was granted this Monday morning, and the news was at once communicated to Peanut's hard-working and good-natured paralegal, Viola T. Ion (in photo at right).
The Presidential pardon grants to Puxsutawney Phil, "his aides, assistants, and other agents, rodent or human, full immunity from civil and criminal prosecution of any kind arising from any observation or prediction, actual or implied, associated with the activites of 2 February 2013, also known as Groundhog Day 2013." Further, says the document, "this immunity shall extend to every state and territory of the United States."
While Diddley doesn't expect the complaints to subside until humans start complaining about weather that's too hot, he does hope it becomes widely known that people can "no longer point their accusing fingers at a blameless rodent for what is inherently an act of God." Moreover, he says, if inaccurate forecasts could be prosecuted, television stations would cease airing them, leaving about fifteen minute of extra news time on morning news shows everywhere.
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