How did Sara Lee, the iconic purveyor of pound cakes and fruit pies, respond to the news that it had been singled out by the National Rifle Association as “anti-gun”?
With utter amazement.
“We are unaware of the list or how/why Sara Lee is included,” a spokesman for the company told The Daily Beast, clarifying that Hillshire Brands, as Sara Lee has been called since last summer, “has never taken a position on gun laws.”
Hillshire isn’t the only company that expressed befuddlement after the NRA’s bizarre list was made public this weekend. The list singles out hundreds of individuals and companies that the NRA says has “lent monetary, grassroots, or some other type of direct support to anti-gun organizations.”
For every obvious choice—say, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence—there’s dozens of seemingly random celebrities like Missy Elliott and Britney Spears. The list also includes dead people (Nora Ephron) and defunct bands (‘N Sync). Boyz II Men, Mel Brooks, and Olympic figure skater Tara Lipinski all made the cut.
A spokeswoman for Hallmark Cards, which was included on the list, had to dig into Hallmark’s history for an answer. Over a decade ago, in 1999, Hallmark contributed $20,000 to help defeat a Missouri ballot initiative that would have required local police to issue concealed carry permits to regular citizens. Maybe that’s what did it?
“We have taken no additional action since then,” said Linda Odell, the spokeswoman, “nor do we intend to do so.”
A spokesman for the National Spinal Cord Injury Association said the organization’s top brass put a call in to the NRA to ask why they’d been included on the list, and still weren’t quite sure why they were deemed anti-gun.
“We are unaware as to why the NRA has included us on their list,” the spokesman, Ahvi Spindell, said. “We have members with disabilities and we believe they have the same right to own a gun as people who are not disabled.”
The NRA declined to comment for this story.
Former Price is Right host Bob Barker was perplexed to hear that he was included on the NRA’s list. “I’m certainly not opposed to guns,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg. “They may assume that anyone who is opposed to hunting is opposed to guns, and that’s certainly not the case with me.”
At least one celebrity on the list knows why. Deidre Hall, known for her longstanding role as Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives, told The Daily Beast, “It is completely appropriate for me to be singled out as a private citizen who advocates for strict gun control laws. There is no credible argument for opposing any legislation, ban, or the harshest punishment for the illegal owning or unlawful use of automatic weapons.”
Some of the journalists singled out on the list responded Tuesday with various iterations of amusement and delight. New York magazine columnist Frank Rich said he was “proud to be on the NRA’s enemies list.”
Mike Luckovich, an editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, said he loved being on the list and said the NRA’s “gun zealotry has driven them insane.”
Columnist E.J. Dionne said he would have been “disappointed” not to be included.