| Luckily for beef producers and consumers, mad cow disease has not
been detected in the United States, according to the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, which has banned the practice of feeding ground up
cattle parts to other cattle. Unfortunately, mad cattlemen's
disease has showed up in the United States, to the detriment of freedom-loving
citizens across this great land. It surfaced recently in Amarillo,
Texas. The outbreak was detected when some of the victims -- billionaire
cattle feeder Paul Engler and other Texas cattle barons -- sued Oprah
Winfrey and food safety expert Howard Lyman for $10.3 million for
statements the two made about mad cow disease on "The Oprah Winfrey
The dementia was so acute that they blamed Winfrey for causing
a $36 million drop in the cash cattle market in the two weeks following
the show. Analysts later pointed out that the drop in prices was
more likely caused by a drought in the southwest that forced ranchers
in that part of the country to liquidate and send their cows to
slaughter -- that, in general, there was a glut of meat on the market.
The jury saw through the insanity and sided with defendants Winfrey
and Lyman, whose attorneys compassionately said they would not attempt
to extract attorney fees from the plaintiffs, that instead they
would only seek to recover $100,000 in court costs. However,
the insanity continues for the plaintiffs, who have vowed to spend
more money appealing their case to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court
of Appeals in hopes of coming up with a different verdict.
The hallucinations don't seem to be getting any better, either.
The cattle barons seem to believe that their attempt to muzzle the
popular talk show host somehow helped "smaller" cattlemen
who could not afford to pay the cost of litigating such a high profile
lawsuit. Engler said his phones are "ringing off the
wall" with calls from people who want to thank him for his
efforts on behalf of the beef industry.
Those who called to thank Engler must be coming down with mad cattlemen's
disease themselves, if they think that Winfrey, who speaks to an
estimated 20 million people on her television program, is going
to help them by telling the world she is never going to eat another
hamburger. What small cattlemen cannot afford is the kind
of public relations problem they will get if the big cattle barons
don't back off. Small cattlemen don't need that kind of help . .
. unless what they want is help going out of business. And
they don't need the kind of help they got from Winfrey supporters
in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who trampled hamburgers during a protest
rally to express their outrage toward Winfrey's attackers.
On behalf of the American people and small cattlemen we have only
one thing to say to the Texas cattle barons: Get well soon.