Random Muppet #21: Edward R. Hero
A worthy leader.
Performer: Jason Bernard (voice), Allan Trautman (puppeteer)
Muppet Universe of Origin: Dinosaurs
Most Significant Appearance: Dinosaurs, March 20, 1992, "And the Winner Is..."
Our favorite prehistoric family, the Sinclairs, belatedly take their youngest offspring Baby Sinclair to the Chief Elder for a proper baby-naming ceremony. In the middle of the ritual, the Chief Elder passes away, but not before christening the child as "Aagh Aagh I'm Dying You Idiot Sinclair."
The Chief Elder sure knows how to pick 'em.
Earl and Fran want to rename their child but until a new Chief Elder is announced, the name stays. Earl's megalomaniac boss B.P. Richfield decides he should be Chief Elder, in order to become even more powerful than he already is. Due to his "frightening" personality, his advisors have suggested he run against another nominee to make him seem more human... er... more dinosaur. In order to ensure his victory, Richfield forces Earl to run against him and purposefully lose.
Earl willingly accepts this role, until he watches Richfield's interview with notable journalist Edward R. Hero. Clearly, a country run by Richfield would be terrible for everyone save for the rich and powerful, so Earl decides he should actually try to win. Unfortunately, he doesn't know the first thing about running a country ("It was easier when I was trying to lose," he laments), but with some helpful PR tips, he easily wins everyone's favor by playing up his family life and patriotism and avoiding the issues.
Intelligent Edward R. Hero sees through his ploy and begrudgingly continues this farce of an election campaign. He hosts the debate between Sinclair and Richfield and it appears that no matter who wins, the country of Pangaea will lose. During the debate, Sinclair admits that he is unfit to run the country but also reveals that he was just a plant to make Richfield look better in comparison. Hero informs the public that, unfortunately, they must vote for one of these candidates: the monster who will destroy them or the idiot who doesn't know what they are doing.
Who is the lesser of two evils?
On election day, both candidates lose to a write-in candidate: Edward R. Hero himself.
Why Is He the Most Important Muppet?
Hero is clearly based on one of American history's best and most honest journalists, Edward R. Murrow. With his signature "Good night, and good luck," Murrow brought the nation the facts it desperately needed with an integrity matched by few others. His biggest addition to the political field was his criticism of Senator Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism, which promoted fear through anti-communism, which resulted in unnecessary accusations and attacks throughout the country. With his help, our nation was able to move away from the chaos and idiocy.
A true hero.
Of course, Hero is a fitting caricature of Murrow and his practices. During an age where politics can be boiled down to talking heads and promotional stunts (the Paleogene age), Hero reminds us that despite what our most vocal representatives may lead us to beleive, there is still intelligence in the world.
Throughout the episode, everyone acts due to cowardice, laziness, and ignorance. People vote for (and aid) Richfield despite his clearly harmful planned initiatives. Others vote for Sinclair because they can relate to him and he says nice things. For a while, it seems as if everyone has forgotten that in order for the country to work, they need to be united behind a candidate that would actually benefit the country.
In Douglas Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Adams reminds us that "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job," because the successful drive for power also ensures an ability to abuse said power. Thus, the Ruler of the Universe is a man without any connection or communication to the rest of the universe who doesn't even think that anything exists beyond his isolated cabin in space.
A similar scenario plays out at the end of this episode, where collectively, the Pangaeans do make the right choice and recognize that Edward R. Hero is the most capable man for the Chief Elder, especially since he didn't even try to run at all. He has seen and experienced enough that would make him completely qualified for the job...
Or so it would seem. His first act as Chief Elder is to rechristen little Aagh Aagh I'm Dying You Idiot Sinclair. He decides that a better name would be "Baby."
As Earl finally notes, "I could have done this job!"