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Dateline. Washington, D.C.

Bigfoot. The Loch Ness Monster. Batboy. Throughout time there have always been those who insist they have seen mythical creatures, people who swear to the existence of phenomena for which scientists say there is no tangible evidence, only hearsay, fable, legend.

But unlike the Abominable Snowman, scientists say the Spine of the Democratic Party is more than a fairy tale. Incredible as it seems today, the legend of Democratic Backbone is based on historical fact, says Prof. Wendy Heep, Chair of Political Archeology at Dartmouth College.

"The fossil record clearly indicates vertebrate characteristics during the early NeoDealistic Period." Prof. Heep explains. "Both the Rooseveltipithicus and the HueyLongicus showed strong indications of backbone, and archeological remains of so-called "Public Works," and badly eroded but still visible "Social Programs" support the theory of ancient spinal strength in Democrats." But according to Prof. Heep, these rudimentary evolutionary advancements were cut dramatically short, and archeologists and anthropologists are still at a loss to explain the political vertebral collapse.

In his 1987 book HU-Wacked! The Cataclysm that formed Commie Crater, Dr. Ewan Collins, of Trinity College, Dublin, first posited the theory that Democratic backbone was extinguished by the sudden, catastrophic psychological impact of a large Anti-Red Hysteria, which the geological record shows hit the Western hemisphere in May, 1938." With the establishment of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the U.S. Congress," Dr. Collins says, "physiological spinal indicators vanished from the Democratic Party," leading irrevocably, he argues, "to the pitiful, stooped creatures we see today."

But not all academics agree with Dr. Collins. Another theory, know as the "Gradual Wimpification Theory," argues that it was not the initial impact that shattered the Democrats spine, but the increasingly hostile new environment that was created, which eroded it over the ensuing years. In the withering storms of Right-Wing propaganda that whipped through both the McCarthizoic and ColdWarassic Eras, spinelessness allowed Democrats to survive, and by the time of their Convention of 1968 the existence of a Democratic Spine was considered a dangerous mutation by Democrats themselves, and the few still showing backbone were publicly hunted down.

By the 1980's most experts accepted the apparent fact of EvoNeoLibolution, a theory first proposed by Prof. R Reagan, which states that Democrats had never developed a backbone of their own, represented an evolutionary dead end, and existed solely to be fed upon by the stronger, more adaptive Conservatives fed. In addition, both Dr. Collins and Prof. Heep also believe that, under the control of the parasitical DLC (the Democratic Lumbarless Council) Democrats had been convinced that during the Deregulazoic Era, a time dominated by corporate behemoths like the Healthcaredon, and the Petrodactyl (both of which fed insatiably on the Public Wealth) and the wily Jesuschristislordasaurus (which dazzled small creatures with it's brilliant display before devouring their brains) the only way to survive was to adapt the characteristics and plumage of the Democrat's greatest habitat competitor, the gelatinous Republicans. This adaptation was so complete by the election of 2000 that some observers said they could not tell the difference between the two. By the end of these epochs the Democratic Spine had completely disappeared, and soon existed only in memory, legend, and the periodic march. After September 11, 2001 the idea that Democrats had ever stood up for anything had been reduced to a theory held by only a fringe of scattered academics, and only the hairiest of people in Berkeley.

"The Democratic Backbone is long extinct." says Prof. Heep.

Recently, however, there have been a number of unexplained sightings, unconfirmed reports of phenomena that witnesses insist are evidence that the Democratic Spine still exists, having survived in the wilderness. Could the "Legend of Backbone" be true?

"I seen't it!" exclaims unemployed chicken stripper Lloyd Flartterer, of Jefferson Creek, Florida. "I was walking on my way home late at night, and it were darker than the inside of a duck. Then... I seen't this light, like a glow, coming from behind me. It were comin' from the window of Earl's TV repair. It was just glowin'... and on one of them sets, I see'd..." Flartterer's eyes grow wide as he tells of his encounter with Democratic strength. " He had a big head, and like, brown skin, like one of them lattes the gays drink, and he was sayin' things like "President Bush was wrong about the War!" and " Government doesn't exist to make the rich richer, but to care for those that need help," and "Fox News is biased!" I... I don't remember much after that. I musta passed out. "We found him the next morning," says Mrs. Enid Flartterer, "spouting some nonsense about intelligent analysis of today's complex issues, intestinal fortitude, hope, and all kinds of greek."

Another witness, Mrs. Emil Titworthy, also reported losing conscienceless after an encounter with what she termed "The eerie image of a politician on my side."

"It was like a feeling came over me, like what I said, or what was happening to me actually mattered, like making my life better actually mattered to someone," said the third generation unemployed seamstress. This delusion of worth is repeated time and again in the stories of witnesses. Despite seeing the Democrats bowing to war funding, crumpling in the face of FISA, crawling toward Corporate bailouts, and dropping like a limp noodle before the concept of impeaching the biggest set of criminals to ever soil the White House, these witnesses still believe in the Legend of Backbone.

Ruth Jenkins, 57, of Cleveland Ohio, had not voted in the last four presidential contests. " I always felt the choice between criminals and invertebrates was too narrow. But for the past two years I've been hearing things... seeing things... that made me believe. See, when I was a kid, and my Daddy was marching to get the right to vote, he used to tell us kids about the Legend of Backbone, and how Democrats used to stand up and be counted when times were tough. I thought he was just fooling, like he did 'bout the Tooth Fairy. But then... I saw it. A Democrat actually stand up, erect, and say the Republicans were just flat wrong, that things need to change in this country, and that though those changes will be tough, change is the only way to fulfill the promise of America for all it's citizens. I believed! But then...."

Jenkins glanced at her television, which showed a room in Washington, D.C. Behind a bank of microphones stood a beaming Lieberman, surrounded by a gaggle of spineless Democrats. The Lieberman, a seemingly immortal form of blanched reptile, who's only known talents are betrayal, licking it's own eyes, and periodically delivering a Senatorial vote, clearly dominated the quivering, spineless Democrats.

"Can't have a backbone and bend low enough to kiss a lizard's butt." Jenkins said, before she spat out her teeth.

Given recent events, Mrs. Titworthy also now doubts her experience. "Guess I was having a 'Plouffe,'" she said, referring to a recent political occurrence when someone actually believes the stuff they say. " Even if what I saw was true, one spine don't change anything. The idea that the Democratic Party would actually fight for what they believe in, to actually stand for something besides the most convenient compromise... Naw, I guess it was all a dream."

Prof. Heep agrees. "Even with the historical data, and the historical victory of the recent election, Democrats have been spineless too long to suddenly develop a backbone. What's next, expecting them to have balls, too?" Heep scoffed into her Jamba Juice. " Last evidence of those was the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964!" "Look at the President-Elect," continued Dr. Collins from a large chair shaped like a hand, "Rolling over, appointing political hacks from previous Administrations to enact 'Change?' I'm a scientist -- I'll believe in the "Democratic Backbone" when I see empirical evidence of it."

But for Lloyd Flartterer the Legend of Backbone is still very real. "I seen't it, and can't nobody take that away from me. I believe," he whispered. "Ya'll'll see." And about the recent appointing of weak hacks, and Business as Usual DLC embarrassments? Flartterer isn't discouraged. "Them's just rumors! I know what I seen't, and soon ya'll'll see. That big-headed, latte-colored guy has got some spine. Ya'll'll see."

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