In April, rotund City Councilman Leroy Comrie proposed a San Francisco-like ban on fast food restaurants giving out children's toys with their happy meals. The proposal was quickly met with a barrage of criticism from both the industry (McDonald's argued that nobody is forcing anyone to buy their kids Happy Meals) and the media (who were happy to harp on Comrie's physical appearance) and the proposal has barely been heard from since. But was there more to the bill's quick decline than just fat jokes about Leroy Comrie? The LA Times today reports on how the restaurant industry has quietly been fighting Happy Meal bans across the nation.

In Florida and Arizona, lobbyists have backed successful efforts to take away the power to enact toy bans from cities and counties. And in Nebraska a proposed statewide ban was killed before its first legislative committee hearing! "Somebody was working the committee," Nebraska state Sen. Bill Avery, who sponsored the proposed toy ban, told the paper. "The bill was killed and indefinitely postponed without discussion."

In Arizona that state's restaurant association successfully lobbied to get a bill on the record that makes it illegal for cities and counties in Arizona to try to regulate any incentives that restaurants provide to entice customers (though a toy ban could still come on the federal or state level). "We felt that this had the capacity to really spread quickly into other states and become the rule, not the exception," Steve Chucri, the president of the association, said. So naturally they squashed it like a fly in a bug-infested Popeye's.

On a national level, however, the industry is denying any meddling. Sort of. The spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association does admit to working "hand in glove" with its state affiliates. But even if it is staying out, considering how big our local New York Restaurant Association is, we have a strong feeling that, in the battle to keep toys out of tot's meal boxes in New York, the $170-billion fast food industry is going to eat the anti-toy contingent for an afternoon snack&—possibly served with a posable Leroy Comrie plushie?