<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>
Wednesday is “Big Block of Cheese Day” at the Obama White House, an homage to two episodes of the television series The West Wing in which senior staffers were forced to spend a day dealing with constituents who don’t normally get an audience with the president. (That idea, in turn, was inspired by an enormous block of cheese housed in the Andrew Jackson White House.) The implication of the episodes is that the people who want to talk about these issues are kind of crazy, but a Mother Jones analysis of the projects presented to Sam Seaborn et al. reveals more nuance. On further examination, the dismissive tone with which Big Block of Cheese Day activists were greeted (or embraced) says more about the smallness of the Bartlet administration’s aides than it does about the issues at hand.
Here is the official Mother Jones ranking of Big Block of Cheese Day ideas, from best to worst:
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Society: It’s never fully explained what the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Society wants, but we can probably guess. According to National Geographic, the Kemp’s ridley is “the world’s most endangered sea turtle” and according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, there are somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 nesting females left. Their greatest threat is shrimp trawlers, which snare the tiny turtles in their nets. But the turtles are also vulnerable to man-made disaster. Most of the 156 turtles that died as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill were Kemp’s Ridleys, because the spill interfered with the creatures’ nesting habitat. It’s a tragedy that these turtles can only get the government’s attention on “total crackpot day.”
Wolf highway: The plan: “Eighteen hundred miles from Yellowstone to the Yukon Territory complete with highway overpasses and no cattle grazing.” Badass! The price: “With contributions and corporate sponsorship, the cost of the taxpayer is only 900 million dollars.” Damn. We have no idea why it costs that much, though, and it seems like something that can be scaled down. Montana and Washington state have already built natural bridges to help animals cross highways at a considerably cheaper rate.