There is no limit to what we won't do to revive the "Morning in America" illusion. We'll down any anodyne to slap ourselves back into productivity at the dawn of another bleak day. A great opportunity arrived this week, when the fat white cat came drifting through the pitiless landscape that is Bushville Year 8.
This harbinger of the end -- freakish, from New Jersey, weighing 44 pounds -- arrived in network television studios in midtown Manhattan yesterday. The apparently homeless obese feline, nicknamed "Chunky," became an immediate media darling, appearing on morning shows and posing on the covers of the tabs, hitting the wires, taking up column inches in newspapers as far away as Dallas.
As Chunky rolled up in a Lincoln Town Car, lolled on coffee tables, purring under the concerned coos of the likes of Regis and Kathy Lee, his erstwhile owner, a grandmotherly gal named Donna Oklatner, age 65, was sleeping at a friends' house, having had to shed her pet after being evicted from her own home in a foreclosure, hastened by credit card and medical debt. Her husband, according to the New York Daily News "ended up in a retirement home."
One hundred people phoned in yesterday to offer "Chunky," the fat cat, a home.
No one, as of now anyway, has offered to house his homo sapiens counterparts.
Of course, the Oklatners are just old humans, not fat cats. Their plight is too typical and depressing to be of any newsworthiness. But the fat cat, well -- the fat cat always wins in the end.
The grotesque pageant is still playing on your laptop, where footage of the cat on the CBS website this morning was only viewable AFTER a short ad extolling the deep concern of Exxon Mobil (whose record $90,000 a minute profits were, according to the New York Times, still disappointing to investors, who sold it short yesterday) about the environment and the energy shortage.
Angry Exxon investors: do the math. One minute of Exxon's profits could feed and house dozens of homeless Jersey cats for several years. Do visions of their beseeching paws not torment your dreams? Can you sleep?
O Animal lovers unite!
With apologies to Carl Sandburg:
The apocalypse creeps in on little cat feet. It sits on silent haunches, Looking over harbor and city, And then moves on.
Follow Nina Burleigh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ninaburleigh