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Obama Pardons Turkeys Mac And Cheese

(SOUNDBITE OF CEREMONY)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today I'm taking an action fully within my legal authority.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

That's President Obama today. After he faced more than a week of criticism over his executive actions on immigration, today he had a bit of fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF CEREMONY)

OBAMA: The same kind of action taken by Democrats and Republican presidents before me to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese from a terrible and delicious fate.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Both Mac and Cheese come from a farm in Ohio. Their combined weight is nearly one hundred pounds.

(SOUNDBITE OF CEREMONY)

OBAMA: It is important to know that turkeys have always had powerful allies. Many of you know that Benjamin Franklin once wrote, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as a representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. The turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird.

I think these two turkeys would agree with Mr. Franklin and they'll get to live out the rest of their days respectively at a Virginia estate with 10,000 acres of roaming space. I know some will call this amnesty, but don't worry, there's plenty of turkey to go around.

SHAPIRO: If you're curious to know when presidents began officially pardoning turkeys, well, this noble tradition is relatively new. According to the White House, President George H. W. Bush was the first to officially spare a turkey with the formal ceremony before the media. That was in 1989. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.