Sending a message to the newly elected Democratic Congress that he has no intention of acting like a lame duck for the remainder of his term, President George W. Bush took the bold step of pardoning a turkey on the front lawn of the White House Wednesday.

In what White House insiders were calling an act of “poultry solidarity,” the president said that he had decided to pardon the turkey months ago and was determined to “stay the course.”

“I’m the decider, and I have decided that this turkey is innocent,” Mr. Bush told the White House press corps.

While the president clearly chose to pardon the turkey as a way of showing Democratic leaders that he was still a force to be reckoned with, one aide acknowledged that Mr. Bush had a much bolder move in mind before his party’s “thumping” in the midterm elections: “He wanted to pardon Jack Abramoff.”

But moments after Mr. Bush released the turkey from captivity, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the president’s decision as “unilateral and extrajudicial,” adding that Congress was prepared to subpoena both Mr. Bush and the turkey.

The controversy over the president’s decision ended abruptly, however, when White House spokesman Tony Snow announced later in the day that Vice President Dick Cheney had accidentally shot the turkey to death.

“Apparently, the vice president mistook the turkey for a quail,” Mr. Snow said. “At least he’s getting closer.”

Elsewhere, Rupert Murdoch announced that he would author a new book about O.J. Simpson’s book. Murdoch’s is titled “If I Canceled It.”


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