How many people heard an anti-administration type chortling over the “Bush served plastic turkey to troops in Iraq in ’03” story this holiday? I just heard my newsroom co-worker insist, without a shadow of doubt, that it was an absolute, incontrovertible fact that Bush posed with a plastic turkey, pretending it was a real one.

This was a popular story on the left-wing blogs last year about this time. It seems to be entrenched over there now. It’s going to go down in history as yet one more of those little memories that divide us as a nation.

In fact, the story’s not true. There was no plastic turkey. It was a “decoration” turkey — a sort of centerpiece, not for carving. But it was quite real. Here’s a contemporary story from WaPo, which, though smirklingly hostile to Bush, gets the essential facts right.

In the most widely published image from his Thanksgiving Day trip to Baghdad, the beaming president is wearing an Army workout jacket and surrounded by soldiers as he cradles a platter with a golden-brown turkey.

The bird looks perfect, with bunches of grapes and other trimmings completing a Norman Rockwell image that evokes bounty and security in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.

But as a small sign of the many ways the White House maximized the impact of the 2½-hour stop at the Baghdad airport, administration officials said yesterday that Bush picked up a decoration, not a serving platter.

Officials said they did not know the turkey would be there or that Bush would pick it up. A contractor had roasted and primped the turkey to adorn the buffet line, while the 600 soldiers were served from cafeteria-style steam trays, the officials said. They said the bird was not placed there in anticipation of Bush’s stealthy visit, and military sources said a trophy turkey is a standard feature of holiday chow lines.

The scene, which lasted only a few seconds, was recorded by a pool photographer and described by officials yesterday in response to questions raised in Washington.

Emphasis added. It should be noted, too, that Bush took turns dishing out the real chow in the buffet line on that day.

The little embarrassments are bad enough, but for some people they’re clearly not bad enough. Everything has to be magnified to the N-th degree.

Now, fess up: How many of you told the “plastic turkey” story this holiday?

Politics Bushs’ Plastic Turkey