WASHINGTON, DC—At a special press conference on the White House lawn Monday, President Clinton unveiled "The Colonel," a six-pound prize hopping-toad believed by many to be capable of outjumping every other hopping-toad and frog in the U.S.
According to Clinton, the new presidential hop-toad, the Executive Branch's "largest and finest competitive hopping frog since the Jackson Administration," will make him the undisputed hoptoad-jumping champion of the District of Columbia, if not the world.
"My fellow Americans, I am proud to present to you such a top-notch hop-toad," Clinton told reporters. "The Colonel is a symbol of my commitment to owning the jumpingest bullfrog in the free world."
While Clinton's mood was largely jubilant during the press conference, he did briefly turn serious, issuing a stern warning to those considering committing acts of terrorism against the hop-toad.
"To those contemplating making The Colonel drowsy by fattening him up with Junebugs, feeding him double-ought buckshot, or switching him with a similar-looking toad when I am not looking," Clinton said, "I say, you will be caught, and you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law."
Clinton acquired the frog last Thursday after instructing Army and National Guard personnel to seek out an enormous, long-legged bullfrog or swamp toad suitable for use in jumping competitions. After several days of searching, a detachment of the Fifth Army Corps of Engineers followed a trail of lily pads to The Colonel's lair deep in a bog on the outskirts of Cairo, IL.
Clinton, who was notified immediately, cut short a meeting with British prime minister Tony Blair to personally inspect the hop-toad. "The moment I saw The Colonel, it was clear that this was the prize hop-toad I had long been searching for," Clinton said. "His legs were unusually long and muscular, and his appetite for blue-tail flies was unmatched. I was extremely confident that he would be able to outjump any frog that might oppose him."
The president addressed a special joint session of Congress Tuesday to rally support for a proposed $4, state-of-the-art shoebox for The Colonel. The taxpayer-funded box, Clinton said, would be constructed of cardboard and feature a removable top and approximately six breathing holes in its side. He noted that the box would serve a dual role, functioning as both as a home for The Colonel while at the White House and as a carrying case during presidential trips abroad.
"I believe that such a box is critically important," Clinton said in his 40-minute address to the legislators. "Without it, there will always be the danger that The Colonel will escape. We cannot, and must not, let this happen." Until Clinton can secure congressional box-funding for The Colonel, he said he will keep him in a locked Oval Office desk drawer.
Legislators' reaction to Clinton's call for federal hop-toad funding was mixed. "If The Colonel is indeed capable of jumping 15 yards when its 'dander is up,' as Mr. Clinton claims," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), "then I believe this would indeed be a worthwhile allocation of federal funds."
"It is positively preposterous that we are considering spending taxpayers' hard-earned money on this presidential hop-frog," said Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). "My hop-toad Beauregard is the three-time jumping-frog champion of Currituck County, North Carolina, and it rose to such heights without the benefit of any public funding whatsoever." Helms then challenged Clinton to put The Colonel up against Beauregard in a best-of-three hopping contest on the banks of the Potomac River.
Clinton readily accepted Helms' challenge. "I intend to prove that my hopping-toad is the finest, fair and square," Clinton said. "Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to purchase a new white suit and slouch hat for the occasion."