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This Father's Day, Barack Obama is continuing his string of excellent vacations by pulling a Chevy Chase maneuver. He's packed up the wife and kids in the Air Force One Family Truckster and is headed out across America for a really boring tour of some pretty national parks.

In celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service, President Obama has decided to take the First fam on a tour of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and Yosemite National Park in California. The National Park Service dates to pre-Civil War era hippies like George Catlin and Henry David Thoreau who were concerned about preserving nature from the reckless expanse of industrialism. After a few tree hugging legislators in California sought to protect Yosemite Valley, "Honest" Abe Lincoln signed legislation that gave control of the land in Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the state of California. This act of big government, in essence, created the first national parkland, "upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort and recreation," and helped pave the way for ammosexual patriots like the Bundy family to complain about the perils of government overreach.

As time went on, the nature of the park service began to expand. Garrisons were established along the Northern Pacific frontier by the U.S. Army in an effort to deter poachers, creating the precursors to Park Rangers. Yellowstone became the first National Park after Ulysses Grant signed the Yellowstone Park Act in 1872. The natural preservation movement continued to grow until the bullmoose loudmouth commonly known as "Teddy" Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act in 1906, giving the president the power to designate huge tracts of land and buildings as historic parks or conservation areas. These areas would be given the fancy title of "National Monuments" so future tourists could pee in bushes without a government mandate on their genitals.

The National Park Service didn't exist until 1916 when Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act, further increasing the size and scope of oppressive government bureaucracy. This created an actual agency to manage the parks, but it took another Executive Order-obsessed president, FDR, to abuse federal law by consolidating all national parks, monuments, memorials, military parks, and cemeteries into a National Park System in 1933. Shitty family vacations haven't been the same since.

But, while Bamz and the fam are snapping selfies at Yosemite, they'll also be reminding Congress of the massive to-do list of repairs and upgrades that the park needs. The National Park Service gets $3 billion in funding a year, but because Congress-critters have been defunding the Park Service since 2005, they are in the hole $11 billion. As a result, parks have been forced to defer repairs to water and sewage systems, roads, and bridges.

Things got real bad during that whole sequestration nonsense, so the Park Service is offering itself to corporate sponsors that have been waiting to rape the natural beauty of the wilderness for a century. Under a new plan by Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, logos could be prominently displayed, opening the doors to "Yosemite, brought to you by Sam's Club," or "Death Valley, brought to you by Koch"! The Park Service promises not to let this go too far: no replacing the water in Old Faithful with Coca-Cola.

[wonkbar][/wonkbar]It's been rumored that Obama may also take some of that dictatorial executive privilege he's been so fond of using lately and dedicate several national monuments and parks. Environmentalists have been pushing for National Monument status to protect the area surrounding the Grand Canyon from uranium mining, and the Gold Butte area of Nevada from the goddamned Bundy militia and pals. Native Americans have been fighting to see 1.9 million acres of native land designated as Bears Ears national monument, and it's widely rumored that the historic Stonewall Inn will become the first national LGBT monument. But now that the parks are effectively broke and broken, the next time someone goes to the Grand Canyon, Disney may have us whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of our assholes.

[White House / Bloomberg Politics / CNN]

Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.


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