In a few days, (soon-to-be-former, thank god or whatever) President Bush will keep alive the great American Thanksgiving tradition of pardoning a turkey. The idea that this president is giving a pardon rather than receiving one is a topic for another day. A couple from Elsworth, Iowa will present the approximately 45 lb. turkey that gets pardoned to the president. Paul "butterball" Hill, his wife, Mary Hill, and their entire family -- because you don't exclude the children from an honor like this -- presented the turkey to the Iowa press today (think man lands on moon front page) and by tomorrow will be flying to the White House. Paul Hill was given the honor because he is chairman of the National Turkey Federation. Herein lies a tale of deceit and betrayal. George Thornton (also pictured above) is President of the National Wild Turkey Federation. He thought the honor of presenting the turkey for pardoning was going to him. With good reason. Much like with the Sunnis and Shiites, the Bush people played the National Turkey and National Wild turkey federation chairmen off each other. They whispered things in their ears. They encouraged, they baited, they offered enticements. In the end, the honor went to Paul "Butterball" Hill and George Thornton returned home to lick his wounds.
Don't know anything about the National Turkey Federation? (Sorry, George Thornton, not enough space here to pimp the National Wild Turkey Federation.) Here's the "about" section, which was composed by the poet laureate of Iowa:
The National Turkey Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities which increase demand for its members' products by protecting and enhancing their ability to profitably provide wholesome, high-quality, nutritious products.
So Paul "butterball" Hill and family are probably flying to Washington this very minute. Last Thanksgiving, Bush pardoned two turkeys named Biscuits and Gravy and he made the following two jokes: "You cannot take the heat and you're definitely going to stay out of the kitchen." "Biscuits had to earn his spot. It was neck and neck." And you thought those presidential speechwriters couldn't do comedy.
So what happens to these pardoned turkeys? They go to Kidwell Farms, in Frying Pan Park, in Fairfax County. Really. I thought the turkey slaughter puns had trickled down from the White House to the newspapers reporting the story but no. The pardoned turkeys really do go to Frying Pan Park, where visitors can stroll down Carving Knife Lane through the Basting Gardens or camp in 450 degrees for 3 Hours Campground. That's silly. Paul "butterball" Hill would never stoop to making facetious, some might say cynical, comments like that at a solemn ceremony like this. So Kidwell Farms. The pardoned turkey will join goats, pigs and cows at the petting farm, where people can pet and make cooing noises at the animals they normally consume. This is where George "butterball" Hill's approximately 45 lb. turkey will end up after being subjected to a few slaughter-themed puns by George W. Bush. And the next day, the visitors will arrive to pay homage.
DAD: here, Billy, pet the nice turkey.
KID: What, so we can kill it later.
DAD: Not this one, Billy.
KID: But we kill the others, one of its relatives.
DAD: We don't kill it, Billy. Someone kills it for us.
KID: So we're cowards?
DAD: Okay, fuck it, we're going to Six Flags.
So to follow up on the question of the hypothetical conscience-stricken kid, what exactly does happen to turkeys on turkey farms? Not Frying Pan Farm. The non-pardoned turkeys, I mean. Stephanie e posted a video of what happens on one of those farms. You don't want to see this video. REally. You don't want to see it unless you want to go to sleep tonight hating your fellow man. Next time you think people force themselves to ignore the abuse and suffering of animals because they like the taste of their meat, you'll remember this video and you'll know that some people don't just ignore it, they actually derive pleasure, the kind of pleasure that sex can only dream of equalling, pleasure from choking and bludgeoning and neck-stomping and other things that should never exist outside of hell. It's stomach-turning, nauseating stuff. I was going to say maybe the White House could supplement the pardoning ceremony with this video and if it's a little harsh for the camera-snapping tourists, they could just add a laugh track to soften it. But that's a joke, and there's no place for jokes anywhere near this video. Just saw the video again and there's only one more thing worth saying. The end.