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LUCKIEST CAT IN AMERICA FINDS FREEDOM
Missing: Ernie the Cat Bush's 6-Toed Kitty Runs Away After Being Sent to L.A.
By John Berman
W A S H I N G T O N, April 4— A beloved member of the First Family is missing in California. Ernie the Cat, the six-toed stray that was saved from the mean streets of Austin, Texas, by George W. Bush, has not been seen for weeks
"They're very concerned," said Noelia Rodriguez, press secretary for first lady Laura Bush.
Several years ago, then-Gov. Bush found the young, orange and white cat up a tree in the yard of the governor's mansion in downtown Austin.
Bush grew fond of the six-toed feline, began to feed him, and eventually made him part of Lone Star State's First Family. The Bush family decided to name the cat "Ernie" after the author Ernest Hemingway who famously kept a six-toed cat.
When the governor became the president-elect, the decision was made that the street-wise cat might not be right for the White House.
"Ernie is more of a free spirit," said press aide Gordon Johndroe said in December. Ernie had a tendency to claw things, including Mr. Bush at times, and the Bush family was worried that Ernie might ruin precious White House furniture.
Sent to Los Angeles
The Bushes decided to give the cat to their close friend, and prolific fund raiser, Brad Freeman.
Freeman, founder of the investment banking firm Freeman Spogli in Los Angeles, had developed a fondness for Ernie during frequent visits to Texas over the last few years.
Soon after Freeman took Ernie to his generous home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, the cat dug-in, clawing some of the furniture. Instead of having the cat de-clawed, Freeman took Ernie to a veterinarian who placed plastic caps on Ernie's claws, including the superfluous ones. Ernie apparently did not take well to the restraints, and broke out of the Freeman compound about two weeks ago.
There has been no sign of Ernie since, though Freeman says that he and others have been looking, "we're hopeful of getting him back," he said. But Freeman acknowledges the chances of a safe return diminish each day. "It's not easy. We have to keep believing that he'll be back. Hope springs eternal."
Though the First Family is concerned, aides say they are taking a somewhat lighter view of the situation. "They realize that he is a free spirit, and hope he is having fun on the beaches of Malibu," said Rodriguez.
Ernie has beaten the odds before. When he was running for president, Bush would talk about Ernie as an example of perseverance: "Sometimes you may find yourself up in a tree, wet and cold. But if you just hang in there and never give up, things will get better for you, just like they did for Ernie."
-- Cherri (email@example.com), April 08, 2001
I thought you were actually going to post a DUBYA free thread for once. Why the obsession, Cherri? Are you really aint's alter-ego?
-- Dr. Pibb (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 08, 2001.
Dr. Pibb, I am rather obsessed aren't I. Actually, Everywhere I turn there is something else about this administration that needs to be shown.
-- Cherri (email@example.com), April 09, 2001.
"Freeman took Ernie to a veterinarian who placed plastic caps on Ernie's claws, including the superfluous ones."
Whatt a dumb-ass idea. Like any cat is going to like that. Furniture is more important than a cat's happiness anyway, right? Damn good for the cat that it got away. Stupid Republicans have no sense.
-- Cruelty to Animals (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 09, 2001.