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THE NATION | THE JAUNDICED EYE

Finally, an Animated Political Campaign

December 15, 1996|Bruce McCall | Bruce McCall is a regular contributor to the New Yorker

NEW YORK — California's political picture in 1997 is due to become animated indeed if current wildfire speculation turns out to be more than just smoke. According to insiders, beloved motion-picture star and cultural icon Elmer Fudd will shortly announce his candidacy, on an independent ticket, for the next California gubernatorial race--with an eventual run for the White House his long-range goal.

Why Fudd, and why now? "He's bored by retirement," reports one political consultant already retained by the diminutive ex-small game hunter. "He's rich as Croesus, and there are issues he strongly believes need to be championed."

Fudd is known to be an arch supporter of the National Rifle Assn., a foe of what he terms "those wicked welfare woafer wascals," and strongly opposed to government mollycoddling illegal immigrants who, he charges, "are muwtipwying wike wabbits."

Yet, balancing this hard-core right-wing agenda is one of the gentlest personas in public life--a short, plump, bald-headed naif whose minor speech impediment only further endears him to America's young and old alike. "The man has almost no negatives," marvels the aforementioned consultant.

Unlike fellow runt and maverick Ross Perot, Fudd does not come off as harsh or threatening: his recognition factor is a mouth-watering 89%; he is equally beloved by blue-collar men and soccer moms nationwide, and like fellow Hollywood star-turned-politician Ronald Reagan, the understated, shotgun-toting sportsman--who declines to give his date of birth--seems virtually ageless. "This is no Bob Dole," observes a Sacramento Fudd-watcher. "Elmer always looks in the pink, exactly the same today as he did in his movies of 40, 50 years ago. It's unreal!"

Not that budding Fudd-o-mania is universal. "I never knew a meaner S.O.B.," says former co-star Bugs Bunny, now far from his glory days as a part-time greeter at National Carrot Council events. "He'd keep firing that (deleted) shotgun at me even after the (deleted) cameras stopped rolling. And what a bigot. 'Wotten wittle wabbit,' he called me. The promiscuity, the lack of birth control, the teeming hordes of us that ought to be stamped out--Fudd believed all those anti-hare cliches. Don't let that sappy voice and nerd act fool you. He's dangerous. Do we really want a governor or president whose idea of a good time is blasting Peter Cottontail to smithereens?"

For now, the Fudd bandwagon is still only a rough sketch on some political operative's drawing pad. And backers of the pint-sized backwoods gunslinger would sooner or later have to reckon with the tag of "loser" that opponents could so easily hang on his long career. "Look at the record," sneers one such critic. "Hundreds, no, thousands of encounters with Bugs. And the little jerk never came out on top."

But we're doubtless in for an eventful ride before it's all over. In other words: "T-h-h-hat's not all, folks!"*

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