Bush Pardons Turkey, Killer of Bald Eagles
While President Bush pardoned a man who accidentally killed three bald eagles 13 years ago this week, he will also spare the life of a turkey, in the White House's annual Thanksgiving ceremony today. (Pet Pulse Photo by The Associated Press)
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With less than two months left in office, President George W. Bush is beginning to extend an increasing number of pardons to humans and fowl alike.
President Bush has announced his decision to pardon 14 people, bringing his total number of pardons to 171.
Included in the list of drug dealers and money embezzlers is Leslie Owen Collier, who pleaded guilty in 1995 to unlawfully killing three bald eagles in Charleston, Mo.
Collier was convicted for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act after he placed pesticides in hamburger meat. While hoping to kill coyotes in his area, he wound up taking the lives of various other animals, including the bald eagles.
Though he can't bring the endangered eagles back to life, President Bush will spare one other equally coveted bird, which Benjamin Franklin once proposed for the United States' national symbol: the turkey.
Today Bush will publicly forgo one Thanksgiving turkey, carrying out a White House tradition that has held strong since President Harry S. Truman first pardoned a bird in 1947.
This year's lucky turkey has already traveled to the capital from his native Ellsworth, Iowa. At 20-weeks and 45-pounds, the bird was raised using "normal feeding and other production techniques," according to a White House release.
"The one exception is they were provided increased interaction with people so they would be prepared for their role at the White House Ceremony," the release reads.
Following the ceremony, the turkey will be flown first class to the Disneyland resort in Southern California, where he will be grand marshal of Disney's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
People can vote on the turkey's name on the White House's website, WhiteHouse.gov. Some proposed options include Popcorn, Roost, Apple, Dawn and Pumpkin.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin also pardoned a turkey in her native Wasilla last week, while displaying a grizzly scene many succulent turkeys are likely to encounter tomorrow.
"I, Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, anticipating and hoping that in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Alaskans everywhere will find adequate nourishment elsewhere and without this particular turkey I do hereby grant Thanksgiving a full amnesty and pardon," said Palin, before selecting the spared bird from a flock.
As she spoke, however, video cameras also picked up a farm worker behind her, methodically feeding birds into a grinder.
Now jokingly dubbed "Turkeygate" by some media outlets, the video of Palin taking questions from a local station, while apparently oblivious to the "carnage" ensuing behind her, has garnered more than two million views on YouTube.
Palin's spokesperson responded to the incident -- and the attention it has received -- on Tuesday.
"The [Alaska] governor didn't know it was going on behind her," the unnamed spokesperson told Entertainment Tonight.
"We're not happy about it and the station is not happy either. This was an attempt to lighten up and do something non-controversial."
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Pet Pulse reporter Amy Lieberman, The Washington Post, Entertainment Tonight, ABC and The Canadian Press contributed to this article.
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