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Happytown

All we got for Christmas were political consequences, a shiny new Tom Feeney and some elephant arthritis via Cloris Leachman. A mixed bag, then!

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“[Feeney] is a proven leader and will be a tremendous asset to the association,” AIF’s board chair, Erika Alba, effused in a press release. “Having dedicated much of the last 20 years to public service, Tom knows what it takes to be effective in the halls of the Florida capitol and on Capitol Hill.”

That in and of itself is laughable, especially when you consider that Abramoff has been making the post-prison talk-show rounds with his book Capitol Punishment, taking on the “what it takes to be effective” issue with his soiled gloves off. (Answer: money.) For Feeney, being effective is going to take a little bit of a flip-flop, as the former anti-gambling crusader (he cosponsored the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) is now deep in the pockets of one of Florida’s most outspoken pro-gambling proponents, AIF. It all sort of makes sense: In a free market, political positions are the first things that are for sale. Those golf balls won’t shine themselves.

Speaking of old elephants in over-sized rooms, you may have heard that Facts of Life shark-jump (and Raising Hope’s “Maw Maw”), Cloris Leachman, personally crafted a letter on behalf of PETA to the city of Orlando last week in an attempt to get the mayor involved in stopping Ringling Bros. from forcing aging elephants to perform very slow cartwheels in the circus when it comes to town next month.

“In addition to the fact that many of the elephants are suffering from lamenessand a host of other maladies, the elephants scheduled to appear in Orlando are aging,” Leachman wrote, pointing out that Florida law, via Florida Statute section 877.16, forbids the trotting out of crippled animals for financial gain. It’s a misdemeanor! (Ringling, the letter says, has recently been fined $270,000 to settle dozens of animal welfare violations).

City spokeswoman Heather Fagan says the city is aware of the issue, and – unlike in the cases of most overzealous PETA complaints that always come in before the circus does – the city is “looking into it,” mostly because Leachman’s objection comes with enforceable specifics and slightly less hamfisted rhetoric. Well, now it seems that Orlando Venues Executive Director Allen Johnson has taken a big sip of the Ringling Yuengling.

“It is my understanding that the Ringling Bros. animal staff is dedicated to making sure all animals have an enriching and safe environment,” he wrote in a response to Leachman. “Their team of world-renowned accredited veterinarians provides 24/7 support to ensure proper treatment, well-being, health and safety of all the animals.” Also, pigs can fly, but only on Christmas. Happy holidays!

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