Joe Lieberman brings a pro-animal record to the U.S. Presidential race
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2000:
WASHINGTON, D. C.––If animal
advocates ever tip the balance in a U.S. Presidential
election, November 2000 could be it.
In a race in which the candidates previously
were distinguished mostly by the
weight of their negatives, the Democratic nomination
of Senator Joseph Lieberman of
Connecticut as Vice Presidential running mate
to Presidential candidate Albert Gore placed on
the ballot the holder one of the best pro-animal
voting records in the present Congress––among
the best ever.
During Lieberman’s current term of
office he has favored 22 of the 25 animal protection
bills that came to a vote, or 88%, and
did not take a position on two of the other three.
Lieberman conflicted with the animal protection
community only in opposing a 1995
amendment to an appropriation bill which
would have axed two space shuttle missions
that included animal research.
Animal protection group endorsements
of Lieberman flooded the Internet. As
Farm Animal Reform Movement founder Alex
Hershaft posted, Lieberman “supported every
pro-animal bill introduced during the first session
of the 106th Congress,” including bills to
restrict federal support for fur trapping on
national wildlife refuges, to maintain the intent
of the severely weakened “dolphin-safe” tuna
import standard, to prevent interstate transport
of gamecocks, and to prohibit both international
and interstate shipment of bear viscera.
Lieberman also co-sponsored legislation
against importing garments made from dog
or cat fur; spoke from the floor of the Senate in
favor of reauthorizing the Endangered Species
Act; spoke against opening the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling; and asked
President Bill Clinton to oppose the recent
Japanese expansion of so-called research whaling
to kill Bryde’s whales and sperm whales,
as well as 300 minke whales.
“Our only disappointment with
Lieberman,” Friends of Animals president
Priscilla Feral told ANIMAL PEOPLE, as
head of the largest national animal protection
group based within his constituency, “was way
back in 1979 when as a state senator, despite
his promise to FoA to vote for a Connecticut
bill to ban leghold traps, he walked off the
floor after a labor lobbyist made a throat-cutting
gesture across the room.”
The AFL-CIO was at the time both
highly influential within the Democratic Party
and strongly supportive of the heavily unionized
U.S. fur garment manufacturing industry,
now much diminished by slow fur sales, foreign
competition, and an aging workforce.
“The bill was killed on a tie vote in
the Connecticut Senate,” Feral continued,
“when the Lieutenant Governor refused to
break the tie. Lieberman later called me at
home to apologize.”
Democratic Presidential nominee
Albert Gore, as Vice President throughout the
eight-year Bill Clinton Presidential administration,
led successful defenses of the Endangered
Species Act against repeated Republican-led
efforts to weaken it during the 104th, 105th,
and 106th Congresses. As a U.S. Senator from
Tennessee, Gore also co-sponsored unsuccessful anti-trapping
legislation, and in 1992 was reportedly even described by an
aide as an “animal rights activist.”
But as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has
repeatedly pointed out, “Gore’s record is nowhere more
severely dented than in the effort to save whales.”
Brokering the 1993 sale of $261 million worth of
missles to Norway, Gore effectively gave Norway the goahead
to resume coastal whaling without fear of U.S. sanctions.
In 1994 Gore pushed a resolution brought before the International
Whaling Commission which––had it passed––would
have expedited the return of high seas commercial whaling.
From 1995 on, Gore assisted the Makah tribe of
western Washington to resume killing grey whales, and in
1997 Gore opposed sanctions against Canada for allowing Inuit
tribal bands to kill highly endangered bowhead whales.
In 1999, after the beluga whale population of Cook
Inlet, Alaska, fell from about 1,000 to barely 150 in only 10
years, Gore allowed the National Marine Fisheries Service to
list the whales as merely “depleted,” rather than “endangered.”
Bush killed frogs
At that, Gore retained a better record on animal
issues than Texas governor and Republican Presidential nominee
George W. Bush.
As an adolescent, according to old pals, Bush after
attending humane education classes reportedly led other boys in
shooting frogs and exploding them by shoving firecrackers
down their throats. The July/August 2000 edition of ANIMAL
PEOPLE gave the details, first revealed on May 21, 2000 by
Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times.
Awaiting formal nomination in August, Bush accepted
honors from Safari Club International as “Governor of the
Year,” for opposing Texas legislation which would have more
strictly controlled game ranching and canned hunts.
As Texas governor, Bush also repeatedly opposed
adding Texas species to the federal endangered and threatened
species lists––and according to Texas Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility, “dismantled the state’s Natural
Heritage Program, ordered biological reports buried, and gave
industry preferential influence.”
“State wildlife agencies are not allowed to report scientific
data at variance with the Governor’s political position,”
wrote former Texas Parks and Wildlife Department zoologist
Dean Keddy-Hector, now a Texas PEER staff scientist.
In addition, said the activist group Citizen Concerns,
Bush “has received more contributions from slaughterhouses,
butchers, and factory farmers than any other candidate.”
The Green Party nominated for President consumer
advocate Ralph Nader, a longtime vegetarian who otherwise
has no record of note on animal issues––and selected as his running
mate Winona LaDuke, an outspoken advocate of Native
American hunting, fishing, trapping, and whaling. Her nomination
was strongly opposed by New Jersey Green Party candidate
and longtime animal rights activist Stuart Chaifetz.
LaDuke was also the Green Party nominee for Vice
President in 1996.
Animal issues had a low profile as the Presidential
race entered the final phase. But economic use of wildlife
habitat surfaced in August, after former U.S. President Jimmy
Carter visited Alaska and urged President Clinton to designate
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain as a National
Monument. This would significantly impede the ongoing
efforts of House Resources Committee chair Don Young and
Senate Interior Committee chair Frank Murkowski, both
Alaska Republicans, to open the coastal plain to oil drilling.
Speaking in Central Point, Oregon, Bush running
mate Dick Cheney suggested that other National Monuments
designated by Clinton might be un-designated if Bush and
Cheney win. This would be a boon to loggers, miners, and
ranchers who lease grazing rights, but a blow to the protection
of wildlife habitat––especially in Utah and Oregon, where
Clinton created the Escalante National Monument and the
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument to protect biodiversity,
after efforts to protect the habitat by other means were blocked
by the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt on July 17 delayed
implementing a proposed ban on snowmobiling in National
Parks, meant to protect wildlife, after the International
Snowmobile Manufacturers Association and wise-use groups
mounted unexpectedly strong opposition. Observers speculated
that the delay was meant to protect Al Gore from having to
defend a Clinton administration action likely to be controversial
in “swing states” which might support either Gore or Bush.
The issue smouldered on in other venues, including
hearings concerning an ongoing Southern Utah Wilderness
alliance lawsuit seeking to ban off-road vehicles from seven
proposed wilderness areas, and a resolution passed by the
board of commissioners in Long Beach Township, New Jersey,
against a ban of all vehicles from the Holgate Division of the
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The vehicle ban
was recently proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to
protect endangered shorebirds.
In Florida, U.S. District Judge Lenore Nesbitt on
August 25 ordered the National Park Service to review the
impact of airboats in the Big Cypress National Preserve, and
ordered three airboat concessionaires to shut down meanwhile.
Big Cypress National Preserve superintendant John
Donahue warned swamp buggy fans that they could be hit with
a similar injunction if they disobey habitat protection rules
which restrict them to 400 miles of trails and 17 access points.
Retorted Collier County Sportsmen and Conservation
Club president Lyle McCandless, “We can’t live with that.”
Added Lee County resident Kerry VanMeter, “Every
place we used to have is now Yankees and golf courses.
You’re taking away the last little place we have to go.”
Florida Governor Jeb Bush, brother of George W.
Bush, is involved in a parallel dispute over boat speeds and
manatees. Florida has about 2,500 manatees; 269 manatees
were found dead in 1999; and boats are believed to have killed
at least 82 of them, just under a third of total mortality.
In contrast to the reluctance of George W. Bush to
protect endangered species, Jeb Bush in July opposed a plan to
expand the Sarasota marina, and said he would oppose expansion
of any marina in the nine Florida counties which do not yet
have a working manatee protection plan.
Maintaining an animal-friendly reputation in contrast
to that of his brother, Jeb Bush earlier endorsed and signed a
state bill to ban killing dogs or cats for their fur and/or selling
dog or cat pelts.
Left for last-minute Congressional decisions during a
20-working-day session after the summer recess were at least
five bills of import to animals.
The bills most likely to pass on the eve of an election
are those which either promise to be popular enough to win
votes, or matter enough to someone to attract significant campaign
Already passed by the House and recommended for
passage by the Senate Interior Committee, the Conservation
and Reinvestment Act would dedicate $40 billion in federal oil
and gas leasing royalties over the next 15 years to habitat conservation,
the preservation of endangered species, and improving
parks. Although the CARA act has broad bipartisan support,
it is opposed by some wise-users because it would
allegedly enable federal “land grabs.”
Some animal protection groups favor CARA; others
see it as likely to entrench the present pro-hunting wildlife management
status quo. Most of those not directly involved in
habitat issues seem to be sitting out the debate.
Also passed by the House, pending before the
Senate, are HR 3535, the Shark Finning Prohibition Act; HR
4320, the Great Ape Conservation Act of 2000; and provisions
of HR 1622, the Dog and Cat Protection Act, to prevent dog
and cat fur imports, which were incorporated into an amendment
to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule Act.
“We are still hopeful that we can get S 345,” to prohibit
interstate sale of gamecocks, “to the floor before the session
ends,” added American Humane Association legislative
director Adele Douglass. Introduced by Wayne Allard, DVM
(R-Colorado), S 345 has 56 Senate co-sponsors and 188 in the
House, but three pro-cockfighting front groups have reportedly
paid ex-Senators Steve Symms (R-Idaho) and J. Bennett
Johnston (D-Louisiana) a combined total of $110,000 to lobby
Passed by the Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee was S 1109, the Bear Protection Act, to help curb
poaching by banning exports of bear viscera.
Passed by the House Resources Committee was HR
4790, a bill to “recognize hunting heritage” and establish a policy
of “no net loss” of federal hunting land. HR 4790, if
approved by the full House and Senate, and signed into law by
President Clinton, would oblige federal agencies to replace any
land placed off limits to hunters with equivalent land elsewhere.
Effectively dead in committee were HR 443, titled
the Downed Animal Protection Act, and S 1345, the Captive
Exotic Animal Protection Act touted by actress and Shambala
Preserve founder Tippi Hedren.
Hillary & Giuli
Entering September, animal issues were not prominent
in any Congressional races––but PETA clashed prominently
with both soon-to-be-former First Lady Hilary Rodham
Clinton, seeking election to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat representing
New York, and New York City mayor Rudolph
Giuliani, who had planned to run for the same seat as a
Republican but withdrew after learning he had testicular cancer.
Clinton was beneficiary of a June fundraiser hosted
by fur designer Dennis Basso; Giuliani won a rare apology
from PETA president Ingrid Newkirk for putting up two satirical
billboards in Wisconsin that showed Giuliani wearing a fake
milk mustache, captioned “Got prostate cancer?”
The question drew attention to a study published in
April 2000 by the Harvard School of Public Health which associated
high consumption of dairy products with an elevated risk
of prostate cancer.
As in most recent elections, ballot propositions may
motivate more animal advocates to vote in some states than
might be motivated by the national candidates and issues.
All but one proposition currently qualified to go
before the electorate pertain to hunting, fishing, and trapping.
Alaska Ballot Measure 6 would restore a 1996 initiative
ban on land-and-shoot wolf hunting that was in effect
repealed this year by state lawmakers. Alaska Ballot Measure 1
would ban future initiatives on wildlife management.
A r i z o n a voters will be confronted with a similar
measure, Proposition 102, which would require any initiative
pertaining to hunting, trapping, or fishing to pass by at least
two-thirds to take effect.
North Dakota Question 1 would amend the state
constitution to declare that “hunting and fishing and the taking
of game and fish are a valued part of our heritage and will be
Virginia Question 2 would amend the Virginia constitution
to similar effect.
Montana Initiative 143 would ban canned hunts and
halt issuance of new game farming licenses. [See pages 18-19.] Oregon Measure 97 and Washington Initiative 713,
modeled after the California Anti-Trapping Initiative passed in
1998, both would ban the use of steel-jawed and body-gripping
traps to kill animals for commerce in fur or recreation, and
would also ban the use of the poisons Compound 1080 and
sodium cyanide. Both bills include broad exemptions for
predator control, nuisance wildlife trapping, trapping to protect
endangered species, and trapping for scientific research.
Massachusetts voters will be asked to ban greyhound
racing, including wagering on telecast dog races.
Question 3, called the Grey2K initiative, is believed
to be the first attempt in any state to stop greyhound racing by
popular vote. Grey2K qualified for the ballot 10 months before
the election, with twice as many signatures as required, but
will be up against an industry with revenues of $10.2 million in
Massachusetts alone, and clout that brought a brief scandal in
March 2000 when state senator Marc Pacheco booked a $125-
a-plate fundraising dinner at the Raynham-Taunton Greyhound
Park while the track was asking the state legislature for $5 million
worth of tax breaks. The dinner was expected to raise
“As usual, the nationals and larger humane groups
are helping to the extent that they allege they can,” commented
Greyhound Protection League spokesperson Melani Nardone to
Of the other states which have greyhound racing,
Arizona and Oregon also have histories of approving pro-animal
initiatives, and might consider similar initiatives if
Massachusetts shows they can succeed.