Actor Ted Danson to speak in front of House committee

Actor Ted Danson, a longtime ocean advocate and Oceana board member, is set to testify Wednesday morning about what he believes are the “chief threats” of offshore drilling and the impact of 120 million gallons of oil discharged annually into the world’s oceans.

The actor is scheduled to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee and will hold press availability outside the hearing room at 9:45 a.m., just before his testimony commences at 10.

Some of the topics he plans to present at the hearing include:
• Threats posed by offshore drilling, including spills, leaks and other forms of pollution.
• Impacts of offshore drilling on marine wildlife, ocean ecosystems and climate.

Most famous for portraying bartender Sam Malone on TV’s “Cheers,” Danson also has a penchant for trying to save the environment. For more than two decades, he has worked to protect the oceans and in 1987 co-founded the American Oceans Campaign, which joined with likeminded groups in 2001 to create Oceana, which focuses on protecting and restoring the world’s oceans.

Oceana renamed its Ocean Hero Award the Ted Danson Ocean Hero Award in 2004, calling him “the ultimate ocean hero.” Danson was also honored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as its Environmental Hero.

Danson is no stranger to politics. He has been a close friend to former President Bill Clinton, who gave Danson’s wife, actress Mary Steenburgen, away at the couple’s wedding. “President Clinton is like my wife’s unofficial brother,” Danson said at a meeting of the Economic Club of Toronto last year, where Clinton also spoke.

If Danson’s testimony is anything like that economic forum, it is sure to be entertaining. “You all have very impressive speakers here, including Bill Clinton, who is, to me, the most amazing speaker I’ve ever heard, which may lead you to ask why you invited Sam Malone to talk about fish. I mean, I haven’t even played a scientist of any kind, let alone a marine biologist, on TV or anything, but here we are and I do appreciate the opportunity,” he said in Toronto.

He also discussed feverish dreams he had when he was 7 years old. “I’d wake up for about three nights in a row and I’d run into my parents’ room just screaming, bent over in agony,” he said.

His parents finally sat him down and asked, “Ted, what are you dreaming about?”

His reply: “I’m sitting on a beach and I hear God’s voice say, ‘Ted, you have one hour to empty the ocean into this bucket,’ and then he handed me a spoon with holes in it. And he says, ‘If you don’t succeed in one hour the entire world will blow up,’ which is your basic messiah-complex dream, which [as] actors we’re all pretty much repressed messiah-complex people. But you can at least say that I was definitely concerned about oceans from an early age.”

Danson has donated to the campaigns of several politicians, including former Democratic presidential hopefuls Al Gore and John Edwards as well as President Clinton, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and apparent Minnesota Senate victor Al Franken.

Danson has been a recent regular on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He can also be seen in the second season of “Damages” on FX.