Bush Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

A close call for May and Flower as they trade kitchen table for Disney World.


Nov. 20, 2007 — -- Thanksgiving -- it's a bad week for turkeys. But two lucky birds received full and unconditional pardons Tuesday from President Bush just outside the country's most powerful kitchen.

"You cannot take the heat, and you're definitely going to stay out of the kitchen," Bush said to the birds at the 60th annual turkey pardoning at the White House.

The national bird and its backup, each weighing around 45 pounds, are from Dubois, Ind.

Presidents since Harry Truman have pardoned turkeys, but the event has been updated in recent years to include a bird-naming contest, with votes cast on the White House Web site.

Nominees this year included Wing and Prayer, Wish and Bone, and Tom and Jake.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said not even speech writers at the White House would know the names of the two birds until the president announced them in the Rose Garden.

"I'm on pins and needles! I honestly don't know -- the draft remarks I saw have blank spaces!" Fratto said by e-mail before the official ceremony.

The president announced the winners in front of his fluffed and feathered friends.

"I'm pleased to announce the winning names. They are May and Flower," Bush said with a smile.

Fortunately for the birds, Vice President Cheney's nominees didn't make the list.

"They're certainly better than the names the vice president suggested, which was Lunch and Dinner," Bush said as the crowd chuckled and the turkeys gobbled.

May and Flower will be spared from the 165 degree oven heat and fly first class to the more moderate temperatures at Disney World to live in the backyard of Mickey Mouse's Country House at the Magic Kingdom.

ABC News is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company and the birds will be the grand marshals of Disney's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation has been associated with historic events.

The November 1963 event was one of President John F. Kennedy's last in the Rose Garden.

President George H.W. Bush conducted the 1990 ceremony just before leaving for Thanksgiving with the troops in the Persian Gulf region.

President Bill Clinton in 1996 returned from an Asian summit and went directly to the ceremony.

But this year's event is strictly May and Flower's day according to White House aides.

Asked if the president had any "secret trips" in mind for Thanksgiving this week, White House press secretary Dana Perino said, "No, not that I'm aware of."

Bush visited the troops in Iraq on Thanksgiving Day in 2003, flying covertly from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, to Baghdad to have a turkey dinner with 600 troops.

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