The debate over building the Keystone XL oil pipeline took a weird turn Tuesday when a Hollywood actress famous for playing a comedic mermaid called the economic lifeline the real life embodiment of some legendary “serpent” destined to doom America.

“Legend tells of a black snake that will threaten our people. Keystone XL is that serpent, a 1,700-mile pipe that would carry toxic tar sands oil across our land and over our water,” wrote actress Daryl Hannah and Native American activist Debra White Plume for MSNBC.

“The tail of the serpent would sit in the Canadian tar sands of Alberta, where indigenous peoples have fallen victim to increased cancer rates and the deadly pollution caused by the oil industry. The serpent's mouth opens on the Gulf of Mexico, spewing toxic emissions in refinery communities like Port Arthur, Texas, where mothers must watch their children grow up with debilitating asthma and other environmentally-related health problems,” the environmentalists wrote.

MSNBC gave space to the duo on Earth Day and they used the platform for a full attack on the Canada-to-Texas pipeline that President Obama has repeatedly delayed. They portrayed it as a potential killer, either due to a spill or actual use of the oil flowing out of the pipeline.

“Keystone XL would run through some of the country's most vulnerable land, carrying dirty tar sands crude through the sensitive Sand Hills ecosystem and the Ogallala Aquifer - one of the largest sources of fresh water in the world - which provides clean water for drinking and agriculture to much of the Midwest. The tar sands crude that the pipeline would carry through our land is the thickest, dirtiest form of oil there is. In the case of a leak or spill, this thick crude would sink in water, making it nearly impossible to clean up and threatening the health and safety of this region for decades to come,” wrote Plume and Hannah, the mermaid inSplash,” a 1984 film starring Tom Hanks.

“Even worse, tar sands crude is significantly more carbon-heavy than other kinds of oil: By allowing huge quantities to reach the global market, the Keystone pipeline would do irrevocable damage to our climate, resulting in more of the extreme weather events that are already threatening our communities. Building this pipeline would create immediate dangers to the health and safety of our communities, and break our promise to leave future generations with a clean, livable planet,” they added.

And if that wasn’t dramatic enough, they told of how the “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” planned to encamp on Washington’s National Mall to protest the pipeline later this week.

“Cowboys and Indians are often at odds in Hollywood movies. But in this fight, they are riding against a common enemy: Big Oil,” they wrote.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at