- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2004


President Bush used the annual Thanksgiving turkey-pardoning rite yesterday to roast the bitter campaign for the White House, jokingly recalling fund-raising disputes, attack ads and a polarizing political movie. “Now’s the time for healing,” he said, as he ceremonially spared two birds.

The winning “candidates” in his satirical rendition of the presidential campaign were Biscuits and Gravy, turkeys raised in Mathias, W.Va. Their names came out on top in an online contest.

“It was a close race. You might say it was neck and neck,” Mr. Bush said. He spoke in the Rose Garden during a rare appearance with Vice President Dick Cheney.

“It came down to a few battleground states. It was a tough contest, and it turned out some 527 organizations got involved, including Barnyard Animals for Truth,” the president said, mocking the free-spending independent groups known as 527s. One group, Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, raised questions about Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s service in the Vietnam War.

“There was a scurrilous film that came out, ‘Fahrenheit 375 Degrees at 10 Minutes Per Pound,’” he said, panning “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the documentary that assailed him over the handling of the September 11 attacks and the war on terrorism.

As the president spoke, the two birds pecked at hedges in the Rose Garden. After his remarks, Mr. Bush, wary after being pecked in the midsection three years ago, kept a firm grip on one bird’s neck.

He said the birds would live out their lives at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, which raises farm animals.

That drew an objection from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which said the turkeys would live in more humane conditions at an animal sanctuary.

The turkeys Mr. Bush pardoned last year died within three months after their “pardons,” a result of drugs that make them grow excessively, the Norfolk-based group said.

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