Tankin' It to the Streets is the one-hundred-seventeenth episode of King of the Hill. It was first aired on March 31, 2002. The episode was written by Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland, and directed by Monte Young.
While drinking in the alley, a Chinook Helicopter passes by and Bill informs the that war games are in progress but he can't participate because he's just an army barber. The next day as Bill is cutting a soldier's hair, his hand cramps up. He's diagnosed as having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the doctor orders him to stop cutting hair for a while which upsets Bill because barbering is all the Army will let him do. As the doctor leaves, he drops Bill's charts. He tries to read it but a majority of the information is censored with black markings. Bill soon asks if it is unusual to find his information censored, with Dale explaining it is a government cover-up; However, Hank explains it is for precautions and states that the information can simply be requested. Impatient, Dale decides to sneak into the military base himself to access Bill's files. But as he finds out about the files, he is shocked to see his findings and takes photos.
When returning, Dale convinces his friends into the basement with promises of a top-secret fishing rod and fresh baked cookies. The top-secret fishing rod is revealed to be a ruse, but the cookies are almost done, Dale shows them his discovery. During the Cold War, the Army performed a secret medical experiment called "Operation Infinite Walrus" to create "arctic supersolders" to fight the Soviets in the event that they invade the polar icecaps, and that Bill was one of the unknowing test subjects. This, according to Dale, explains why the former high school football player has gone bald and flabby. Horrified, Bill leaves ashamed and sobbing. At the Army base he gets drunk in the barbershop and as he waddles outside, he steals a M1 Abrams tank.
During the night at the Hill's home, Hank explains to Peggy about what Dale told him. Hank and Peggy feel sorry for what has happened to Bill, and also feeling outraged he is on how the government is using their tax dollars on preforming experiments on Army recruits. Soon Bill drives the tank arrives on Rainey Street and alerts the entire neighborhood, with Hank and Boomhauer attempting to open the hatch. They find out it is Bill, much to Dale's disappointment, who has scalded off his fingerprints. Boomhauer suggest that they should call someone about the situation but Hank and Dale strongly disagree fearing that the government will either have Bill sent to prison or assassinated. The group decides to return the tank, only to argue who is driving. Dale however, explains he had downloaded manuals on how to drive the tank on Vladimir Putin's website.
On the way to the base, Bill wakes to vomit in a sandbox where he reveals his resentment over how his life turned out. But Hank and the guys explain that his problems are caused by the experiment and not him. Bill with his confidence restored decides to drive tack back to the base himself. After avoiding trouble with the police and flawlessly asking a police woman for a date they arrive at the base, only to have parked on the artillery exercise range where their tank becomes a target of live artillery fire.
Trapped in the tank, Bill tries to figure out a plan of escape the range. Dale decides to signal the training recruits, only to accidentally fire the tank's main gun, the shell from which destroys the Arlen water tower. Seeing this, the recruits believe the tank to be a drone and target it. But as the group tries to decide what to do next, Dale reveals that the army has pumped Bill full of placebo, which Dale thinks is the name of the experimental drug (DALE: "I think it's made by Puh-fizer."). Hank explains a placebo is a fake drug; Bill was in fact injected with nothing but sugar water. This soon depresses Bill once more, thinking the army did not even want to experiment on him and that his problems really are of his own making. Hank attempts to console Bill, but is left panicking as the shelling is getting closer. Bill decides the three should escape through the escape hatch and into the forest nearby while he drives the tank away to draw the artillery gunner's fire; he assures the group he will escape by tying down the throttle with his boxer shorts. Hank, Dale and Boomhauer dash into the woods as the tank, with Bill driving, moves off down the range. Inside, a sobbing Bill sings the song "Freebird." Then as Hank and the others watch in horror, a shell hits Bill's tank destroying it totally. The three inspect the remains of the tank and are left mourning and claiming Bill's friendship was valuable. Hank begins to sob, saying that his biggest regret was that the last thing he said to Bill was that his breath stank. Soon, however the three discover that Bill survived but has severely damaged his hand and is happy to hear that his friends still value him. The next day Bill is cutting hair with his non-dominant left hand and does crudely on an officer; the man is not satisfied but is impressed by Bill's sudden change of oral hygiene. Bill then happily sweeps his workplace.
Meanwhile, Peggy tries to guess the weight of a sundae in order to win a free-sundae at Mega Lo Mart only to fail. Back at the Hill residence Bobby helps train Peggy and she gets better and better each time. The next evening after Hank and the guys leave in the tank, Peggy and Bobby go back to the Mega Lo Mart to try the contest again, only to fail because Peggy forgot how much the cup itself weighs. Peggy comes back with another sundae and this time manages to claim victory.
- The episode title is a reference to both the album and song "Takin' It to the Streets" by The Doobie Brothers.
- Vladimir Putin is the president of Russia, who was a member of the KGB. This would explain the manuals on his "website", which does not exist in reality.
- Dale is apparently extremely comprehensive in Russian
- War games, an informal term for military exercises, are often done with two nations, in which are normally allies.
- What they used to destroy the tank is based on the M101 Howitzer Artillery.
- The song playing during Bill's flashback is Baba O'reily by The Who; Bill mentions his hair being like Roger Daltry's, who is the band's singer
- Bill, being a Sergeant, actually outranks the Corporal who's hair he was cutting at the beginning. He would not have needed to ask permission from the Corporal (or be denied by) for anything.
- About seven years prior to the episode, a former army tank driver by the name of Shawn Nelson drove into a National Guard base on Southern California and stole an M60A3. He went on a wrecking a spree smashing light poles to RVs in San Diego while police were chasing him down. Nelson was unsuccessful in ramming the tank into beam and tried to cross a median on the freeway. When he did so, the tank's left track got stuck and was temporarily disabled. Police took the advantage to try and end the situation before the tank got free. After several warnings to stop, Nelson ignored all calls and continued to drive, police eventually shot him in the neck and later died in the hospital.
- Both Shawn Nelson and Bill Dautrive are divorced middle aged men who served (Bill still serves) in the army. Bill wanted to be a tank driver and is shown with an M60, Nelson was also a tank driver for the army. Nelson became increasingly delusional and aggressive with his meth addiction, Bill was extremely drunk right before he stole an M1A2.
- Tanks stationed on a base never have live ammunition inside. It was unclear why or how a round was already loaded in the chamber when it shot down the Arlen water tower.
- SDPD considered using a Cobra Attack Helicopter to shoot down the M60, but it was turned down due to fear of collateral damage from the anti tank missiles.
- Although this episode has several allusions to the 1995 San Diego Tank chase, it is unknown whether the writers and producers were aware of this event and made the episode in a reference to it.
- During the episode, the stolen M1A2 smashed Kahn's SUV. There are numerous footage of the M60 smashing traffic lights, signs, and an RV.
- When a Chinook CH 47 D helicopter flies low over the alley where Hank and the boys are drinking beer, Bill refers to it as "our team bus."
- The song bill is singing to himself in the tank towards the end of the episode is "Freebird" by the band Lynyrd Skynyrd.