PBS CHARACTERS RALLY FOR PUBLIC TELEVISION FUNDING WASHINGTON (AP), June 21, 2005Clifford the Big Red Dog joined Democratic lawmakers and other PBS supporters on Tuesday to protest proposed cuts in federal funding for public broadcasting. At the Capitol Hill news conference, the lawmakers were surrounded by young children holding signs that read, Dont Can Oscar, a reference to Sesame Street character Oscar the Grouch. PBS CHARACTERS TESTIFY IN WIDENING SCANDAL WASHINGTON (AP), March 13, 2007A federal grand jury in Washington heard testimony today from three key witnesses regarding allegations of a wide-ranging influence-peddling effort in the 2006 elections and on Capitol Hill, allegedly organized by some of the biggest names in public broadcastinga scandal that federal prosecutors are calling Muppet-Gate. Big Bird, Elmo, and Grover were seen leaving the federal courthouse today following their testimony before the grand jury. Neither the three Sesame Street stars nor their attorneys responded to shouted questions from reporters. Prosecutors also refused to comment. The allegations center on a plan allegedly conceived by longtime Sesame Street actors in 2005 shortly after the Republican-controlled U.S. House attempted to cut federal funding for public broadcasting. The actors hoped, according to documents first published by The Washington Post last week, to win influence in Republican-controlled Washington in order to protect their federal funding stream. If the Indian tribes can do it, theres no reason Muppets cant, too, wrote Oscar the Grouch in an early strategy memofirst reported by the Postthat carried the subject line We cant just be puppets anymore. After more than 30 years in public broadcasting, Mr. Grouch has quickly become a Washington power player in the past two years. The reclusive political consultant is known among Washington insiders for spending much of his time in a garbage can from which he directs his bare-knuckled political tactics and allegedly maintains close ties with Karl Rove. In November 2005, Mr. Grouch founded the A-B-C As Easy As 1-2-3 Political Action Committee, according to federal campaign filings. The PAC allegedly funneled corporate money through various front groups to the Republican National Committee and to GOP congressional candidates in the 2006 elections. According to documents published in the Post, Mr. Grouch struck a deal with U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, stipulating that if the ABC-123 PAC helped elect more Republicans to the U.S. House, then the GOP leadership would promise not to cut federal funding for public broadcasting. The New York Times reported in yesterdays editions that Big Bird and Snuffalufagus met secretly in the White House in October of last year with Dick Cheney and executives from ExxonMobil. Three weeks after the White House meeting, Sesame Street aired its controversial Climate Change episode in which Snuffalufagus famously remarked Kids, global warming is as imaginary as I used to be. Other likely grand jury witnesses could include Cookie Monster, hired in 2005 at the prompting of DeLay to serve as a corporate lobbyist for RJR-Nabisco. In the past two years, Mr. Monsters influence has become legendary on Capitol Hill. Said one Republican staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity, When he wants something, and he gets up in your face and gives you the business, and those googly eyes of his start rolling around, man, Ill tell you its hard to say no. In a brief phone interview with the AP yesterday, Mr. Grouch defended his groups actions. These allegations are utterly false. They are fictions created by partisan Democrats and the liberal media, he said. Its a partisan puppet-hunt, plain and simple.