PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) -- Punxsutawney Phil, the famed groundhog known for weather prognostication, was embroiled in a rare controversy Tuesday after he reportedly saw his shadow. The groundhog's declaration, made public via text-messaging and Twitter, means six more weeks of winter, according to legend.
But several witnesses disputed Phil's account, saying that no shadow was visible when the groundhog was pulled from his burrow. Fox News anchor Geraldo Rivera went so far as to say that the furry mammal had "sinister motives." His Fox News colleague Glenn Beck speculated that the groundhog was somehow aligned with early 20th-century progressives in a plot to freeze America.
The controversy took another odd twist late Tuesday when the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed that it was investigating several suspicious trades involving natural gas and heating oil companies on the New York Stock Exchange. The inquiry reportedly centers on the groundhog's winter conversion to Islam and his involvement with Ayatollah Mugsy, the enigmatic leader of Pug Life Ministries. The ayatollah, a pug, did not return calls seeking comment.
One SEC official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the ministry made several equity purchases in the weeks leading up to Groundhog Day of companies that would benefit from a prolonged winter. The Associated Press was able to confirm that Devon Energy, the largest U.S.-based natural gas producer, is among the ministry's largest holdings.
"We believe that the groundhog, in coordination with his spiritual adviser, Ayatollah Mugsy, is trying to prolong the winter weather for financial gain," the SEC source said. "They stand to profit from an extended cold snap and the accompanying use of natural gas-powered home heaters. But prosecuting an animal under insider-trading laws is a very fuzzy area, to say the least."
Friends and relatives of Phil have said that the groundhog became aware of the ayatollah's teachings after being given a BlackBerry by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club so that he could text his shadow findings and update his Twitter page. The groundhog reportedly spent the last two months exchanging regular e-mails with Ayatollah Mugsy and undergoing intense religious instruction.