Celebrity bear enters politics


Tag, the Kodiak bear, contemplating the circumstances that led to a life in politics.

Tag, the Kodiak bear, contemplating the circumstances that led to a life in politics.
Screenshot: KPBS

In 2019, we were introduced to Tag, a Kodiak bear/thespian who enjoys sharing “cookie kisses” with Hollywood’s Jason Momoa. Now, following in the pawsteps of prior California-based-celebrities-turned-Republican-politicians, Tag has lumbered his way onto the campaign trail as part of John Cox’s bid for governor.

Having a bear as part of a California gubernatorial election might seem like an overly on-the-snout recognition of the state flag, but the premise of Cox and Tag’s partnership is even weirder. In a profile of Tag, Vice points out that Cox’s whole campaign thing is based around calling himself “The Beast” because, as his press secretary writes, Cox’s platform is based on his promise to make “beastly changes” to California politics. (Specifically its tax rate.)

We’re more interested in Tag’s career shift from acting to politics than Cox’s platform, though—especially because his new gig has been pretty controversial. Earlier this month, PETA unsurprisingly condemned Cox’s decision to bring a goddamned live bear to his campaign stops and called for an investigation, which has since yielded a statement from senator Ben Hueso that calls “exploiting a live bear as a political prop” a “a shameful, distasteful trick to bring attention to a candidate.” Last week, ABC 10 ran a story on the city of San Diego’s look into the legalities of bringing Tag along to events and the Oakland Zoo’s associate director of animal care has also described Cox’s bear theatrics as being unsafe.

All of this leaves us with the hope that Tag will be released from his duties soon, and can return to his den for a long conversation with his agent (which is, we don’t know, a talking fox, probably) about where he should go following this unsuccessful foray into politics. We suggest a temporary retreat from the spotlight—a period of hibernation where Tag can really just reflect on what he really wants to do with his time so he never finds himself caught up with people like Cox ever again.

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