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Give Me Liberty...Obama Pardons Thanksgiving Turkeys

Liberty is the aptly-named turkey who got his moment in the spotlight, not to mention a reprieve from the dinner table, at this year's White House turkey pardoning Wednesday.

The president and his two daughters continued the annual tradition, begun by George H.W. Bush in 1989, on the North Portico of the White House.

As presidents do with this less-than-regal-- if humanitarian-- task, Mr. Obama had a little fun with it.

"[R]ecently I've been taking a series of executive actions that don't require Congressional approval. Well, here's another one," the president said, referring to his efforts to circumvent Congress after they shunned his jobs bill. The president branded that effort 'We Can't Wait.'

He continued the theme Wednesday, "We can't wait to pardon these turkeys. Literally. Otherwise they'd end up next to the mashed potatoes and stuffing."

As all turkeys of recent years do, Liberty and Peace stayed in luxurious accommodations while in Washington for the event. The W Hotel, just a few turkey leg strides from the White House, accommodated the birds.The president couldn't let the moment go without some levity. He explained that the turkeys had been exposed to loud noises and flash bulbs so the birds wouldn't spook on their big day. "This is actually true," the president said. "They also received the most important part of their media training, which involves learning how to gobble without really saying anything," he added to big laughter.

The presidential turkey presentation finds its roots in the Truman presidency in 1947. Many turkeys were spared over the years at various times, but it wasn't until George H.W. Bush became president that the turkeys were officially "pardoned".

President Obama treated Wednesday's pardoning as a momentous occasion. While understudy Peace remained somewhere off-stage, the president gestured like a magician or perhaps a priest giving a blessing, as he issued the pardon to Liberty.

After proudly displaying their white feathers and wattles for tourists during "Christmas at Mount Vernon," at the famed George Washington estate in Virginia, both Liberty and Peace will live out their stress-free days in a custom-made enclosure at a livestock facility there.

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