Low Concept

Sauce for the Hamster

Vets debunk Kerry’s hamster rescue.

A group of Vietnam veterans [Swift Boat Veterans for Truth] has bought television time in three swing states for an advertisement that attacks Senator John Kerry, accusing him of lying about his war record, including the circumstances surrounding his medals, and betraying his comrades by later opposing the war. ”When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry,” one of the veterans, Larry Thurlow, says in the 60-second advertisement. … Robert G. Elder, like Mr. Kerry a Navy lieutenant who commanded a Swift boat, declares, ”John Kerry is no war hero,” and Robert Hildreth, who held a similar post, intones, ”John Kerry cannot be trusted.” The Kerry campaign immediately denounced the group, noting that none of the men had actually served on the Swift boats that Mr. Kerry commanded. …
—New York Times, Aug. 5, 2004


Today a group of Massachusetts animal-care professionals, Swift Boat Veterinarians for Truth, launched an advertising campaign to counter claims made by John Kerry’s family concerning his heroism and the family dog’s misconduct in the alleged near-death of a hamster. A script of the advertisement follows:

“Hamster” (0:60)

Alexandra Kerry (video from Democratic National Convention): We were standing on a dock waiting for a boat to take us on a summer trip. Vanessa, the scientist, had packed all her animals including her favorite hamster. Our overzealous golden retriever got tangled in his leash and knocked the hamster cage off the dock. We watched as Licorice, the unlucky hamster, bubbled down to a watery doom. … But my dad jumped in, grabbed an oar, fished the cage from the water, hunched over the soggy hamster and began to administer CPR. 


Vet No. 1: I was on that boat coming to pick up John Kerry.

Vet No. 2: John Kerry has not been honest about what happened. 

Vet No. 1: He’s lying about the hamster.

Vet No. 3: I know John Kerry is lying about the hamster, because I treated the hamster for that injury.

(On-screen: X-ray) 


Vet No. 4: I took care of that retriever since he was a puppy. He would never hurt another living thing. John Kerry has besmirched the honor of every dog who ever served.

(On-screen: guide dog leading veteran)

Vet No. 1: I don’t even think he had a dog. Never heard one. Maybe a cat. Even that far away, my eyesight’s pretty good. 


Vet No. 5: He says it was a retriever. Well, retrievers go get things. That’s what they do. The cage goes in the water, and the retriever doesn’t go after it? Come on.


Vet No. 2: There was no leash. I looked up when I heard the dog. Went back to the house and got my binoculars just to make sure. I think he kicked the damn thing in the water himself.

(On-screen: caged hamster sinking) 

Vet No. 5: OK, tell me this. How do you hook that cage with an oar? You want to tell me how an oar fits through a hole a hamster can’t get out of?

Vet No. 4: The CPR thing. That kills me. I shook hands with that bastard once. Ever seen his fingers? Jesus. He probably crushed it right there if it wasn’t dead already.

(On-screen: rodent carcass on pavement) 

Vet No. 2: Yeah, I saw him do mouth-to-mouth once. Not on a hamster. Can we go off the record?

Vet No. 3: He lied to the girls. He lied to his country. 

Vet No. 5: When the cage was in the water, you could not count on John Kerry.

(On-screen: bubbles emerging to surface)

Vet No. 4: He blamed the dog. He blamed the girls. Everyone but himself.

(On-screen: bubbles cease) 

Announcer: Swift Boat Veterinarians for Truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement.