The Spectacle Blog

Congress Saves Super Twiggy the Cartoon Squirrel

By on 12.30.13 | 12:47PM

If Paul Ryan is baffled as to why so many of us prefer the automatic sequester to his new trust-the-appropriators deal, he should read David Fahrenthold's infuriating piece in the Washington Post earlier this week. At issue: the fiscal prudence of animated rodents:

One day this summer, the House of Representatives faced a decision. Should America cut off the money for Super Twiggy, the cartoon squirrel?

At that time, across-the-board budget cuts called sequestration were kicking children out of Head Start and leaving FBI agents without gas money. Congress was still supposed to be looking for smaller, smarter ways to trim the budget — so it could replace that big, dumb cut.

So it came to Super Twiggy. The squirrel starred in Web videos in Spain, touting the health benefits of California-grown walnuts. U.S. taxpayers had paid more than $3 million for Spanish walnut promotions, as part of a $200 million-per-year Agriculture Department program that promotes U.S. farm goods overseas. …

It didn’t work. After other members touted the program’s value to farmers, the cut was rejected, 322 to 98.

A committee of four-year-old children assembled at a local preschool, though they might have derived some initial enjoyment from a cartoon squirrel, would probably conclude that spending $3 million on one is absurd and vote to end the program. But not Congress! In Washington, where there’s a lobbyist standing guard over every bad idea, the animated walnut spokesman lives to flack another day. Though I suppose it’s hardly surprising in a government that spends millions on three-dimensional pizza printers and Star Trek workshops. I don't know about you, but my faith in entitlement reform is at sky-high levels right now.

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