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Reggie and Osama: Your 2005 Fugitives of the Year:

He’s slippery, elusive and hasn’t been seen for a while. Efforts to catch him all seem doomed to fail. Those efforts have been time-consuming and costly. Quick: Osama bin Laden, or Reggie the Machado Lake alligator? Turns out it’s both.

Since last summer, various efforts have been made to capture an alligator that was dumped into 53-acre Lake Machado. Despite plenty of media and a proliferation of those Australian hats that are folded up on one side, nobody has been able to catch “Reggie.” Video of the critter is always fuzzy, so the whole thing is taking on a Loch Ness Monster-Bigfoot quality. I’m saying don’t be surprised if “Reggie” turns out to be a plastic alligator fastened to a toy boat operated by somebody from the Harbor City Chamber of Commerce.

And Osama bin Laden? You remember him, don’t you? He was the most wanted fugitive on earth before we learned that our real problems were with Saddam Hussein, who 70 percent of Americans believed was involved in 9/11. Of course, that statistic is two years and 2,174 dead U.S. troops-old. For now, let’s look at some current ‘intel’ comparing and contrasting our pursuits of 2005’s biggest fugitives.

Show Me The Money

It’s not as if people haven’t been trying. In 2004 the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to double the reward for bin Laden’s capture to $50 million. So far, the pursuit of Reggie the alligator has cost an estimated $155,000. Your tax dollars are at work, although we haven’t got either of them yet.

Dead or Alive?

In speeches several years ago, President Bush made it clear that he was targeting bin Laden; in one speech, he declared that the terrorist was “wanted, dead or alive.” In another speech, Bush said, “If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.” Again, this was years ago. Meanwhile, in Lake Machado, a series of gator wranglers has been unable to ‘wrangle’ Reggie, although each new wrangler is able to get on television and make it look like he’s really trying.

We Know Where They Are

Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf told reporters in March that Pakistani security forces came close to capturing bin Laden “in an operation eight to ten months ago.” Then the trail went cold. However, the statement backed intelligence reports that bin Laden is in the mountains straddling the Afghan-Pakistan border. Reggie is somewhere in Lake Machado, possibly hibernating right now.


Reports of any near-capture of either Reggie or bin Laden inevitably describe them as “elusive.” At Tora Bora, bin Laden was close but the gig to capture him was given to alligator wranglers from Florida who smelled of Jack Daniels. Wait, my mistake: I meant to say Afghan warlords.

With each close call, with each new development, both bin Laden and Reggie add to their cult status and everybody involved gets a little something out of the deal. Last week, L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo “announced” charges against two men suspected of dumping Reggie into the lake. Recently, President Bush has been everywhere reaffirming his efforts to catch bin Laden. Wait, my mistake: I meant to say win the “terrorist” war in Iraq.

This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz

1) San Diego restaurants are being


(a) by a bandit posing as a


(b) of dignity by huge Big Boy


(c) of ketchup packs by old


2) Students were expelled from a

Lutheran school

(a) for wearing Bon Jovi t-shirts.

(b) for allegedly being lesbians.

(c) for podcasting “Prairie Home


3) A Sun Valley aerospace

company was fined $200,00

(a) for dumping toxic waste into


(b) for selling rocket-powered


(c) for defective zero-gravity


Answer Key

1) (a) “This cash has ranch

dressing on it…”

2) (b) “See “Constitution, comma,


3) (a) “Think of it as “astro


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