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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of January 1, 1999

This week, facts about... Political animals.

Transcript

CURWOOD: This week's swearing-in of the 106th Congress comes at a time of partisan battles between the 2 major herds of political animals: the donkeys and the elephants. The creature caricatures both come from the pen of political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Mr. Nast first represented the Democrats as donkeys in 1870 in a Harper's Weekly cartoon. Perhaps he'd been inspired while thumbing through a version of Webster's Dictionary. It defines a donkey first off as a domesticated ass. The second meaning: a person regarded as stupid, foolish, or obstinate. Four years later Mr. Nast used the elephant to represent the Republicans. Webster's describes the elephant as huge and thick-skinned. If the beasts themselves were to vote a straight party line, the nation would be overwhelmingly run by Democrats, since there are an estimated 140,000 donkeys in the US and only 600 elephants. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

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