Saturday, September 03, 2005



Even Mr. Bill Knew the Levees Wouldn't Hold:
In early 2004, lovable, crushable clay animated figure
Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live starred in an ad to
alert people to the problems with the wetlands in
Louisiana. On Good Morning, America today, President
Bush said, "I don't think anyone could have
anticipated the breach of the levees." He was wrong.
Mr. Bill already had. Here's a transcript of the
stunningly prescient ad, from CNN on May 27, 2004:

MR. BILL: Gee, kids, I'm not sure we can do our show
today because it looks like Hurricane Sluggo is headed
right for us here in America's wetlands.

Bill. And since New Orleans is below sea level, if a
hurricane hit us directly, it could push the water
over the levees and fill it to the top.

BILL: Well then we'd better leave.

WILLIAMS: Well it's too late to evacuate since all the
roads are jammed and under water.

BILL: Then where can we go that's safe?

WILLIAMS: Here this should work.

BILL: Gee, I hope it doesn't get much higher.

WILLIAMS: Well, Red, the alligator, doesn't seem too

BILL: Yes, that's because he can swim. You know I
don't do that too well.

WILLIAMS: Well in that case, Red says he'll have one
of his buddies come and give you a lift.

BILL: That's OK. Maybe you could mind the water wings
or something. Oh, get me out of here! No, wait, no,
no, ohhh!

WILLIAMS: Let's act now before it's too late.

By the way, Williams pulled Mr. Bill out of the
campaign in June of this year when he believed it was
being used as a tool to cover up the misdeeds of Shell


Mr. Bill tapped to help save La. swamps
By Cain Burdeau
Associated Press — Jan. 22, 2004

NEW ORLEANS — Mr. Bill, the "Saturday Night Live" clay
character from the 1970s whose misadventures usually
left him squished, will be part of a campaign aimed at
teaching people — especially children — how Louisiana
is losing its coastal marshes and swamps.

Click Here!

"I wish I had a quick three-word synopsis for it,
other than maybe Mr. Bill says 'Ohh, nooo!!! — the
coastal erosion,'" said Walter Williams, Mr. Bill's
creator and a native of New Orleans.

The campaign will be launched next summer with Mr.
Bill and a gang of "Estuarians" — Salty the Shrimp,
Eddy the Eagle, and others — talking about the
shrinking coast.

"Our hope is to draw worldwide attention thanks to Mr.
Bill," said Valsin Marmillion, a campaign consultant
for "America's Wetland," an initiative kicked off last
year by Gov. Mike Foster to drum up national support
for the problem.

What's been lost is mind-boggling: Since 1930 more
than 1,900 square miles of marsh — Louisiana's
"trembling prairie" — no longer exist. That's an area
roughly the size of Delaware. And the loss of land
continues at about 30 square miles a year.

"Anyone who drives down the road can kind of tell that
the land is gone," Williams said.

The land has disappeared for a multitude of reasons,
among them oil and natural gas drilling, sea-level
rise and engineering the Mississippi so its waters do
not overflow with spring sediment and nutrients into
the vast wetlands.

Until recently, the plight of south Louisiana largely
has been ignored — even in Louisiana. But a coalition
of interests — from environmentalists to fishermen to
oil executives — have pooled their resources to try to
get Congress to pour billions of dollars into what
could become one of the largest public works ventures
in American history.

A $14 billion, 30-year project to restore the
Louisiana coast is under review by the White House and
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and could be
presented to Congress next summer.

There's one glitch: getting people to care about the
Louisiana swamps. That's where Mr. Bill comes in.

The governor's campaign has sought to brand
Louisiana's problem for the general public. First, it
got the makers of Tabasco hot sauce to put the
America's Wetland logo on their products. Now, the
campaign hopes Mr. Bill will appeal to kids and baby
boomers alike.

"Mr. Bill is a generational bridge," Marmillion said.
"So the parents understand it and the kids get the
newness of the Estuarian characters."

Just how well Mr. Bill and the Estuarians will ignite
the public's imagination is impossible to tell. But on
a short budget of about $1.5 million a year, getting
Mr. Bill — who's been featured in spots for Pizza Hut,
Ramada Inn, Lexus and Burger King — was considered a

"Because Mr. Bill always finds himself in difficult
situations, he becomes a natural spokesperson for the
'Don't be a loser' theme of the campaign," Marmillion

He said the project, called "Mr. Bill America's
Wetland World Tour," will be Internet-based where
children, teachers and the public can get lessons,
games and other activities over the Web.

"These are fun characters, and I think kids will be
able to relate to them," Marmillion said.

The Mr. Bill skits, first created by Williams with a
Super 8 camera in his teens, debuted on "SNL" in 1976
and ran through 1980. With supporting characters Mr.
Hands and Sluggo usually working against him, Mr. Bill
was often put in situations — a party, a magic show,
the circus — that left him squashed, dismembered and
howling in shock.

Williams, who's called New York and Los Angeles home
for years, didn't have to be convinced of the urgency
to stop Louisiana's marshes from being lost.

In 2002, he made a one-hour documentary called "The
Natural History of New Orleans" broadcast by PBS and
used by the Army Corps of Engineers and state
officials to illustrate the problem.

"My mom and sisters live here. So that is another
reason to try to help Louisiana," Williams said.
"Everyone is doing what they can — and obviously,
'Ohh, nooo!!!' makes a great headline."


US refuses Jamaica's offer to help with disaster

B.C. urban rescue team headed to Louisiana:



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