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PRESENTING THE 2015 TURKEY BOWL WINNERS
The time has come to count our blessings, and of all the things for which members of the political press can be grateful, one of the greatest are the gaffes, pratfalls and general buffoonery that mark (and sometimes transform) each election cycle.

With that in mind, Fox News First is pleased to present to you, dear readers, our first ever Turkey Bowl champions ranked in order to reflect both their ridiculousness and consequence.

Gobble, gobble.

10) The Great Derp-bate - Hosting presidential debates is, as it turns out, rather difficult. And so discovered the crew from CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” which came equipped with snark and sneers for the network’s Oct. 28 debate, but little else. Candidates hit their questions out of the park like batting practice for two long hours, which was judged to be a catastrophe. In the words of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, “Come on, folks!”

9) Stuck on stupid - Donald Trump has had many memorable moments in the 2016 cycle, but his response to rival Ben Carson’s autumn surge in Iowa polls was one of the most puzzling. Trump made a speech in the state where he appeared baffled at Iowans drawn to the quiet doctor causing him to bellow, “How stupid are the people of Iowa?”

8) Double mounted in the Kentucky Derby - Back when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was a media darling and a top-tier GOP presidential contender, he tried to have it all. Commonwealth law in Kentucky doesn’t allow candidates to appear twice on the same ballot. So rather than giving up his Senate seat for his presidential run, Paul came up with a procedural maneuver to get around the law. For supporters looking for a candidate who was “all in” it sent all the wrong messages.

7) Prisoner of love - Ben Carson has baffled the political press and his rivals as voters have flocked to him despite some odd and sometimes rambling responses. We got our first sign of things to come in March when Carson explained the nature of homosexuality by discussing gay prison sex.

6) A long way from Wauwatosa - Much has been written about the stumbles that led to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s September departure from the GOP race. But back in February, he was considered by many the top contender for his party’s nomination. On a trip to Britain to pad his foreign policy resume ahead of his campaign launch, Walker told an interviewer that he was “going to punt on that one” when asked if he believed the theory of evolution. Liberals pounced and comedians mocked, but worst for Walker, it raised doubts that would linger about his ability to play in the big leagues.

5) You got servered - The political press was in full froth in the week that followed the March 3 revelation that Hillary Clinton had done her government business as secretary of state on a secret, private email server in her home. Clinton was stonewalling as hard as she could, but she eventually panicked and called a quickie press conference at the United Nations. She should have brought peacekeeping forces with her. The evasive and, as it would turn out, misleading claims Clinton made have haunted her candidacy ever since. Clinton obviously misunderstood the seriousness of her misdeeds that still may sink her again.

4) No take backs, no do overs - Democrats were just starting to see Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as a serious challenger to Hillary Clinton when the party’s first debate was held in October. But when asked about the scandal surrounding Clinton’s emails, Sanders not only waved off the issue but offered his only memorable moment of the night as he thundered, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” Sanders would subsequently realize his mistake and in later interviews try to revive the topic, but, it was too late. Not so much Bernin’ here.

3) Birther of a nation - In 2011, Donald Trump whipped up a frenzy of media attention with claims that he was going to uncover the truth about President Obama’s birthplace. And then the president showed his birth certificate from Hawaii and Trump left his fellow birthers holding the bag. In his current candidacy, Trump had mostly sidestepped his prior role as a leading conspiracy theorist. But at a September town hall in New Hampshire, a Trump supporter said Obama was not born in America and is a secret Muslim. Trump didn’t contradict the man and refused afterward to offer his judgement on either allegation.

2) Ah, grasshopper… - It’s been a rough year for Jeb Bush, who, in his trip from frontrunner to also-ran, has been pummeled by Trump, mocked by the media and generally knocked around. The moment Bush sought to get back on offense, though, was his worst. At the CNBC debate, Bush tried to take out his onetime protégé, Marco Rubio, with a graceless attack on Rubio’s Senate attendance record. But Rubio proved to be the new master in the dojo, telling Bush “Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you. It’s not.” It sounded like something between a mercy killing and an intervention.

1) Entitled to her own opinion - Like a veteran ballplayer heading to spring training, Hillary Clinton started her second presidential campaign with a warm up – in her case, a book tour. She wasn’t even ready for that. Clinton managed to injure herself badly for the regular season with a June 2014 interview with ABC News. Clinton defended her and her husband’s prodigal buckraking from questionable sources saying the couple was “dead broke” when they left the White House and needed cash for college tuition and mortgage payments. Woof. To make it worse, Clinton would refuse to apologize for several days and when she did still blamed it on her listeners’ misunderstanding. When the book “Clinton Cash” came out in May, voters were treated to some eye-popping details about how the couple took in nearly $250 million in personal income in their post-presidency years. Clinton somehow doesn’t understand how voters might resent her feeling entitled to not just enormous wealth but also a return trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Honorable mentions - Former Sen. Lincoln Chafee’s metric mania; House Majority Kevin McCarthy writing Clinton’s talking points for her; and Jeb Bush’s enthusiasm for killing baby Hitler.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Thursday will be the 226th anniversary of the first official day of thanksgiving observed by the government of the United States. The proclamation from President George Washington in 1789 was printed in newspapers across the land and read in capitols and churches throughout the new republic. Washington expressed deep gratitude for independence and the Constitution that had been ratified the year before. Washington’s words were something of a sermonette on the virtues enshrined in the national charter:

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

You can read the rest courtesy of the National Archives.

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or the LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve – 42.4 percent//Disapprove – 51.9 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction – 28.3 percent//Wrong Track – 64.3 percent

TRUMP EXPANDS HIS CLAIMS ON 9/11
Just as Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton found herself in hot water earlier this month over using the 9/11 terrorist attacks for political gain, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is taking heat for his claims about the terrorist attack. There has been days of back-and-forth about Trump’s claim to having seen television footage of “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the attacks. Local officials say Trump is wrong, but he has continued to repeat the claim despite a lack of evidence.

But Trump has opened a new 9/11 controversy with his claim that he witnessed people jumping from the World Trade Center that day. Despite living nearly 4 miles away from the WTC, Trump said: “Many people jumped and I witnessed it, I watched that. I have a view -- a view in my apartment that was specifically aimed at the World Trade Center,” he said at a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio. “And I watched those people jump and I watched the second plane hit ... I saw the second plane hit the building and I said, ‘Wow that’s unbelievable’.”

“What Washington has always wanted is to divide conservatives. To have a splinter: A chunk of conservatives here, chunk of evangelicals, a chunk of libertarians, a chunk of Tea Party folks. It’s a mistake we’ve made over and over and over again whether it was Bob Dole or John McCain or Mitt Romney. Every time we listen to the voice of run to the middle we get clobbered.  It doesn’t work.” – Sen. Ted Cruz on “The Kelly File.” Watch here.

Rubio backer puts heat on Cruz over NSA - A political operative and supporter of Marco Rubio is behind a nonprofit group that just began attacking Ted Cruz in Iowa, Politico reports. “Sean Noble is the founder of American Encore, a 501(c)4 nonprofit, which is paying $200,000 to air an ad in Des Moines that accuses Cruz of voting to ‘weaken national security’ and urges him to ‘stop leading from behind.’ Noble said that while he personally is backing Rubio — he served as a co-host of scotch and cigars fundraiser in Arizona last week — his group is not.”

Carly heads to Nevada - Carly Fiorina joins Americans for Prosperity “Road to Reform” forum series in Reno, Nev., on Dec. 16. Fiorina will discuss the burdens of federal regulation on business particularly in the energy sector.

HILLARY SHAMED FOR SAYING ‘ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS’
HuffPo: “Pressed by journalist José Antonio Vargas during an online question-and-answer session hosted by Spanish-language news broadcaster Telemundo, Clinton publicly committed to avoiding the term…Vargas noted in conversation on Facebook that Clinton used the phrase ‘illegal immigrants’ while discussing immigration reform during a recent campaign stop, and called the term ‘offensive.’… ‘That was a poor choice of words. As I’ve said throughout this campaign, the people at the heart of this issue are children, parents, families, DREAMers. They have names, and hopes and dreams that deserve to be respected,’ she added.”

Snubs MoveOn.org - The Hill: “Clinton skipped the MoveOn.org candidate forum, opting against answering questions from members of one of the nation’s largest progressive groups.”

Clintons’ big money from Wall Street - The lucrative relationship between Clinton family and the nation’s finance industry that has many Democrats concerned is detailed in an AP analysis of disclosure records since 2001: “[A] nearly 15-year period in which Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, made at least $35 million by giving 164 speeches to financial services, real estate and insurance companies after leaving the White House.”

And who would know more about not becoming president? - NYT: “On Tuesday morning, Mr. Biden met privately with Martin O’Malley, one of two remaining rivals to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic presidential contest, according to people briefed on the meeting.”

NEXT YEAR, HOW ABOUT A TOFURKEY?
Snopes.com collected legendary turkey stories to share including this one dating back to 1880: “A woman who got it into her head that a fresh turkey produced a far superior meal to a frozen one made a trek out to a turkey farm to buy a live bird. But after returning home and looking square into the eyes of the living, breathing creature she'd just purchased, she just couldn't bring herself to kill it by wringing its neck or chopping off its head. Instead, she managed to put the turkey to sleep with chloroform and then began the process of dry-plucking it. Just as she finished removing the last of the feathers, however, the bird woke up. The next-door neighbors responded to her shouts and arrived at her back door to find a woman being chased around her kitchen by an angry, naked turkey.”

[Ed. note: One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions has for decades been the annual republishing in my hometown newspaper of the same perfect column about the holiday by the late Adam Kelly, known to his readers as “the country editor.” That tradition took on new meaning for me when I was privileged to have his son, Bob, a great newsman himself, as my mentor. Bob, before he died too young, taught many of us the wisdom of letting our stories and subjects do the talking and keeping ourselves out of it. And though his dad’s column was very personal, it ultimately was not about him. While we might not each be able to enjoy today every blessing its author did, the sentiment and wisdom last beyond our temporary travails. Fox News First is pressing pause for the holiday and will resume publication on Monday. In the meantime, I wish you and your families bounty and blessings, but most of all, the gift of gratitude, even in the face of challenges.]

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.