Bush Bails Out Birds: Pardons Pumpkin and Pecan

By Lindsey Ellerson

Nov 26, 2008 1:59pm

ABC News’ Kirit Radia Reports: Rapper John Forte isn’t the only one getting a White House pardon this week.  President Bush officially pardoned the 2008 White House turkeys in a Rose Garden ceremony Wednesday morning. The President also announced the results of this year’s naming contest: Pumpkin and Pecan.

"Pumpkin and Pecan are hereby granted a full and unconditional — unconditional presidential pardon," Bush said.

Pumpkin stood patiently to the side and then calmly sat on a table as the President and a flock of schoolchildren came by to pardon him. (Lucky for him, Sarah Palin was nowhere in sight).

Pecan, the President said, was waiting in an "undisclosed location." Why? "In the unlikely event the main event chickens out," the president deadpanned.

Both turkeys were pardoned, free to live out a long life without fear of roasting pans and basters. But first, they’ll have work one more day.

After spending last night in the luxury Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., the turkeys will fly first class to Disneyland in California late Wednesday aboard a flight the president dubbed "Turkey One." On Thursday, the birds will be the Grand Marshalls at the park’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"I just hope they stay humble there," Bush said.

John McClintock of Disneyland Resort Public Relations confirmed that Disney paid all costs for first class air fare and the turkeys’ hotel room was paid for by National Turkey Federation.  Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

The turkeys’ journey to the White House began, where else, in Iowa, where they were raised under the direction of National Turkey Federation Chairman Paul Hill. Hill and his family were on hand at the White House Wednesday and will escort the birds to California tonight.

The White House Deputy Spokesman declined to answer a question about the president’s decision to pardon the turkeys, telling reporters,: "On instruction from White House Counsel I have to refer all turkey pardoning questions to the Office of the Pardon Attorney."

The President said he has a lot to be thankful for this year, including the health of his mother who was rushed to the hospital last night.

"This is my final Thanksgiving as the President. Over the past eight years, I have been given may reasons to be thankful. I’m thankful for our men and women in uniform and I am incredibly proud to have been their Commander-in-Chief.

"I am thankful for the armies of compassion volunteers who feed the hungry and shelter the poor. I am thankful for the teachers and nurses and pastors police officers and firefighters, and others who serve their neighbors and better their communities.

"I’m thankful for the wonderful and supporting family that I have been blessed with. I’m grateful to Laura for her love. I’m grateful for two Thanksgiving miracles who were blessed — who we were blessed with 27 years ago: Barbara and Jenna. I’m thankful for the fact that my mother is doing well. And this year we’re looking forward to having another place at our Thanksgiving table with a  son-in-law, and I’m thankful for Henry."

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