Big Bird was probably chilling in his nest, chomping down a bag of bird seed and minding his own business. Then he clicked on the TV and, before he could flip over to the Discovery Channel, he spat out a mouthful of seed as he realized he was the topic of conversation during the first presidential debate.

And he might want to start looking for a new nest in a rent-controlled neighborhood.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney might have dominated Wednesday's debate with President Obama, but he definitely lost the Muppet vote. Romney repeated what has become a Republican theme over the years: That the government shouldn't be funding PBS.

He told moderator Jim Lehrer, who works for PBS: "I'm sorry, Jim. I'm going to the stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it."

Somewhere, Elmo sheds a single tear.

Romney isn't just after "Sesame Street." According to the Washington Post, Romney wants to cut all federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Doing so would save $450 million, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the federal budget.

The Internet immediately exploded with pro Big Bird activity. Which is something, frankly, I never thought I'd type.

Maybe Romney can back in the good graces of the muppet community by promising to hire Count Von Count to be his budget director.

Contact Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks.