Updated, 1:45 p.m. | Showing that he can hold a grudge as well as the next politician, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hurled a mild vulgarity at Staten Island Chuck, the groundhog who bit him two years ago, at the conclusion of Wednesday’s otherwise uneventful Groundhog Day ceremony.
Go to the videotape, courtesy of The Daily News. At 0:14, Chuck emerges from his wooden house into his enclosure. At 0:23, the mayor declares, “This is the best groundhog in the world, and he’s the most accurate.” At 1:09, the mayor is seen inside the enclosure. He playfully, even tenderly scratches the back of Chuck’s head, carefully picks him up from behind the shoulders, and proclaims, “No shadow!”
So far, so good. But go to 1:45, right near the end of the video, in a bit of the incidental footage that telejournalists call B-roll.
With Chuck safely back in his carrier, the mayor, recalling the fateful moment in 2009 when he had to reach in to a Chuck-size house to extract the groundhog and Chuck chomped the mayor’s gloved hand, turns to Chuck’s handler and utters these words:.
“That was so much better than having to reach in and let the little son of a bitch bite you.”
Update | When asked about the epithet this morning, Mr. Bloomberg said he could not recall using any salty language, but added, “On the other hand, I think it’s also true that you really don’t have standing to talk about this unless you have been personally bitten by a groundhog. Those of us who have have an ability to understand the issue, to address it clearly, to assign responsibility and to try to ask God for forgiveness for the rodents that do these dastardly things.”
The zoo declined to defend Chuck’s honor or even, for that matter, to respond at all to the mayor’s slur.
Mr. Bloomberg seems to be on sort of a testy roll. At a news conference shortly after the 7:30 a.m. groundhog event, he snapped at a reporter who questioned him about a policy that penalized city workers for taking a snow day off last week even though the mayor himself had instructed nonemergency workers to stay home. “I don’t know how you were brought up, I was always brought up that you had an obligation to work” the mayor said. “Maybe it’s different in your world.”
Javier C. Hernandez contributed reporting.