Subway serves the turkeys that Bush didn't pardon

This year, economizing has reached shambolic levels: America is being served President Bush's Thanksgiving leftovers. We may not have an accurate death count of civilians killed as a result of the Iraq War, but at least the major news outlets can be counted on to cover at least one story from all angles. I'm referring to the ridiculous annual tradition in which politicians "pardon" a turkey just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Guess where there ones who don't get pardoned wind up? This week, on your plate.

Turkey Day Traditions

    In this image released by Disneyland, Pumpkin, the National Thanksgiving Day Turkey that was pardoned by President George W. Bush is shown Thursday, Nov. 27, 2007, at his new home at Santas Reindeer Ranch in the Frontierland section of Disneyland, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Disneyland, Paul Hiffmeyer)

    AP

    In this image released by Disneyland, Pumpkin, the National Thanksgiving Day Turkey that was pardoned by President George W. Bush is shown Thursday, Nov. 27, 2007, at his new home at Santas Reindeer Ranch in the Frontierland section of Disneyland, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Disneyland, Paul Hiffmeyer)

    AP

    "Pumpkin", the National Thanksgiving Turkey, is surrounded by hands moments after U.S. President George W. Bush pardoned him in the Rose Garden of the White House, November 26, 2008. Pumpkin will travel to Disneyland later today to participate in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in California. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)

    Reuters

    **FILE** This file photo provided by Disney shows one of the turkeys pardoned by President Bush making his grand entrance Nov. 22, 2007, in the Walt Disney World Thanksgiving Day Parade in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. as the Grand Marshal of the parade. Last year's birds are currently living the good life at Disney World in Florida, where they were flown by a United Airlines flight that was renamed "Turkey One" for the occasion. (AP Photo/Disney, Gene Duncan, FILE) **NO SALES**

    AP

    **FILE** This Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 file photo provided by Disney shows Pilgrim Mickey Mouse at Ten Star Ranch in Dubois, Ind., unveiling the two turkeys that received presidential pardons from President Bush at the White House on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007, in the 60th annual National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. (AP Photo/Disney, Diana Zalucky, FILE) **NO SALES**

    AP

    **FILE** This file photo provided by Disney shows President Bush as he pardons one of two turkeys Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007, during the 60th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation ceremony at the White House. Last year's birds are currently living the good life at Disney World in Florida, where they were flown by a United Airlines flight that was renamed "Turkey One" for the occasion. (AP Photo/Disney, Kent Phillips) **NO SALES**

    AP

    U.S. President George W. Bush (C) gathers with children and National Turkey Federation officials as he pardons "Pumpkin", the 2008 Thanksgiving turkey, during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington November 26, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)

    Reuters

    "Pumpkin", the National Thanksgiving Turkey, is surrounded by students from Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland, after U.S. President George W. Bush pardoned him in the Rose Garden of the White House, November 26, 2008. Pumpkin will travel to Disneyland later today to participate in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in California. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)

    Reuters

    "Pumpkin", the National Thanksgiving Turkey, is surrounded by students from Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Springs, Maryland, after U.S. President George W. Bush pardoned him in the Rose Garden of the White House, November 26, 2008. Pumpkin will travel to Disneyland later today to participate in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in California. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)

    Reuters

    US President George W. Bush and turkey farmer Nathan Hill(R) from Elsworth, Iowa, pet "Pumpkin", one of two turkeys pardoned by Bush at the annual turkey pardoning ceremony November 26, 2008, at the White House in Washington, DC. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images





This year, the turkeys that didn't make the cut will be be made into slices in a sandwich at a Subway chain store near you. Yes, the farm that supplied this year's winners is one of the sub-franchise's main suppliers, and by the time the flightless birds were winging their way to Dubya, the rejects were already being processed into foot-longs.


At the White House, the audition process went like this: Birds from an Iowa farm (each year, a different place provides them) were assessed for their attractiveness and their decorum (meaning they wouldn't be likely to peck the president's eyes out in front of the cameras). The winning pair were given names, something they never had before, stowed in a room at the luxury Willard InterContinental hotel, and after the press parade was done, they were flown by commercial aircraft to Disneyland. Frontierland, to be exact.

Even going to Disneyland may not make for a long retirement. One animal protection group, Farm Sanctuary, launched a campaign designed to convince the White House to send the pardoned poultry to its facility instead of Disney's. The birds, having been raised expressly for quick slaughter and rich meat, are in such poor health that they tend to die quickly -- the ones delivered to Disney in 2005 were dead by the end of 2006, it says. That the birds are in lousy health is something Disney confirms -- when ones arrived at Walt Disney World a few years ago, they were so infirm they could barely stand (which may account in part for that compliant decorum that won them pardons to begin with).

The explanation of the birds' destiny may ruffle some feathers, but knowing the dark side of the pardoning ceremony may be the only shred of reality to this hollow exercise that seems to both apologize for and legitimize our important meat industries.

After all, Bush "liberated" Pumpkin and Pecan this year, but he ate another turkey on Thanksgiving. And Sarah Palin has perhaps ruined the symbolic tradition forevermore. She unwittingly converted untold numbers of people to vegetarianism at her own pardoning photo op in Alaska, at which she lectured the press on brutality directly in front of a contraption where the unluckier birds were being systematically slaughtered. The hypocrisy of the enterprise doesn't stop there: One of the most popular snack items at the Disney parks is the brine-injected, roasted turkey leg. Disney World sells some 1.5 million a year. I'm not exactly sure what the message of the annual pardoning ritual is supposed to be. Does anyone know?

Well, maybe we should ask the group that organizes this whole foolish consumer news event--the turkey lobby.

Stay tuned for more of President Bush's powers of forgiveness, As this lame duck president winds up his term, expect him to pardon a few more turkeys, only this time, the press may be more likely to notice any hypocrisies.

In the meantime, you can be a part of presidential history, apparently, simply by ordering a six-incher.

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