Bush Grants His Final Presidential Turkey Pardon

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President Bush follows the annual White House Thanksgiving tradition of pardoning a turkey on Wednesday in the Rose Garden. Video by washingtonpost.com

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By Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 27, 2008

President George W. Bush leaves office in 54 days with a sterling legacy.

He has improved living conditions and made innovations.

He has shown real commitment to gender equality.

He has presided over unprecedented growth.

Stay calm. We're not talking about his leadership of the country. We're talking about his stewardship of the National Turkey.

Dubya's approval ratings stink, the economy stinks, being at war stinks, but man, does he have this National Turkey thing down. During eight years in office, Bush has set new standards of quippy, turkey-pardoning glee while saving eight national turkeys -- 280 pounds of potentially mouth-watering deliciousness -- and eight alternates, sometimes called Vice Turkeys.

The importance of having two turkeys at the ready was proved yesterday, when disaster was narrowly averted in this, Bush's final turkey-pardoning moment. The Washington Post has learned that one of the turkeys came down with a cold the night before the pardoning ceremony!

"A little congested," a source involved in the closed-door turkey operation said.

Just like that, the chosen bird was demoted to vice turkey status, and no one would be the wiser.

"Number 2 became Number 1 in the middle of the night," said another source, who asked to be identified only as a member of the turkey-raising family.

And so it was that on a bright, chilly morning in the Rose Garden, President Bush was able to preside smoothly over his last turkey pardoning. This time, mercy was granted to Pumpkin, a strapping 20-week-old, 45-pounder raised in Ellsworth, Iowa, by National Turkey Federation Chairman Paul Hill and his family (the largest suppliers of unpardoned turkeys to the Subway sandwich chain, according to federation spokeswoman Sherrie Rosenblatt).

Bush made no mention of the late-night turkey switcheroo, but he did have reassuring words for Pumpkin and Pecan, the bird that missed its shot at glory because of the sniffles.


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