No more pardons, Prez; just eat that turkey

With Thanksgiving coming on, it might be a good time to demand a little more honesty from the government.

How about it, President Bush?

On Thursday, why don't you and the missus eat that danged turkey? Whaddya say, Dubya?

While millions of Americans expect to be chewing on a dead Thanksgiving turkey fresh out of the oven, our leader sends his bird to a petting zoo.

What's with that, Mr. President.? Some kind of federalized guilt trip?

Roughly, 46 million turkeys — dead ones — are gonna be sitting on dinner tables this week. According to industry surveys, 95 percent of the nation's Thanksgiving dinners consist of dead turkey.

In all due respect, sir, If I'm killing a turkey, my president should, too. It's the American way. No more silly pardons, Dubya.

Let's have an honest ol' Texas-styled presidential decree, "This sucker is heading for the White House oven, pardners."

Actually, President Harry Truman was the first to send his Thanksgiving dinner away alive. And every president since has done the same. Just remember a Democrat started this, Dubya.

It all began in 1947, when the National Turkey Federation, an organization of turkey growers, started giving presidents a complimentary bird as a public-relations ploy to remind all Americans to eat oven roasted turkey for Thanksgiving.

So tell me how this annual Rose Garden ceremony makes sense?

The turkey growers want us to gorge ourselves on their turkey carcasses; meanwhile, the president plays the politically correct game and sends his turkey away "to live out the rest of its years."

Oh, give me a break. Dubya. That big ol' bird is too fat to fly, too dumb to run and, if it rains, it'll look up and drown. You can't pet a tom turkey, Dubya; it'll peck a hole in your Texas hide.

Mr. President., let's get honest. Farm-raised turkeys are for eating, not petting. Instead of pardons, why not use the Rose Garden ceremony to remind all Americans that their meat isn't always wrapped in cellophane.

And now, here's a more honest idea from book author, James Swan. "If we're going to honor a turkey at Thanksgiving, then let's go back to our origins and honor the real thing," Swan writes.

The real turkey is the wild turkey. The real turkey was present for the first Thanksgiving in 1621. The real turkey was almost hunted to extinction until America discovered its conservation conscience.

Today, wild turkey populations are thriving in 49 of the 50 states.

So, Mr. President, why not celebrate the wild turkey by participating in the release of a wild bird into unoccupied habitat. The National Wild Turkey Federation — an organization of wild turkey hunters — may be willing to help select a suitable transplant site on the outskirts of Washington.

Transplanting wild birds has been the key to the wild turkey's amazing comeback in America in the last three decades. It's also one of America's greatest wildlife success stories, Mr. President.

Sadly, most Americans haven't heard the story. You could spread a great conservation message, Mr. President. Just do it. Eat that farm turkey. Let a wild one go.

October through December 2002, Ron Schara's short feature "Backroads with Ron & Raven" airs Saturdays on ESPN2 at 7:55 a.m. ET. Click here to view this week's show descriptions.

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