White House Turkey Pardoning Scandal?

After pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey in a public display of mercy Wednesday, President Bush will be served turkey as part of his holiday meal. Critics call the practice a "charade."

Questioned about the apparent hypocrisy of the practice, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel was unruffled. "You should try your hand at open mic night at the Laugh Factory," said Stanzel. He promised he would attend the performance.

A spokesman for president-elect Barack Obama declined to comment on the matter.

The back-to-back Presidential turkey saving/turkey eating has been going on since at least 1947, when then-president Harry Truman held the first modern-day White House turkey pardoning.

In a morning ceremony at the White House Wednesday, Bush granted a "full and unconditional" pardon to Pumpkin the turkey, as well as to an alternate bird name Pecan. The White House declined to release the names and photographs of the turkeys that will be served at Thursday's feast. Neither did it share information on how they would be prepared.

In previous years, the president's chefs have roasted the birds, according to a review of White House records.

In his comments at the public pardoning, Bush said both Pumpkin and Pecan will receive first-class trips to California, where Pumpkin will serve as the grand marshal of the Thanksgiving Day parade at Disneyland. However, the White House web site indicates only Pumpkin would make the trip. It does not disclose the fate of the second bird. The White House declined to comment on the matter Wednesday.

Humane Society Calls the Tradition 'Ludicrous'

"This is one of those ludicrous traditions that lays bare many of our contradictions towards animals," said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.

"I don't think it's a scandal that the president slaughters another bird," Pacelle said. The real scandal, according to Pacelle, was the way many commercial farms raise turkeys, which cause the birds chronic health problems. The National Turkey Federation did not respond to a request for comment.

Of the White House ceremony, Pacelle said, "I thought everybody knew this was a bit of a charade."

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