The White House Should Build a Death Star

Just one of the many recommendations the American people have shared with the president to improve the welfare of the nation

Step away from Twitter; don't even think about creating that spoof account. Fake Twitter profiles are so 2012. The hip gag for 2013 is White House petitions.

The administration created a website called We the People back in fall 2011, but it has only really hit its stride in the last few weeks. For the uninitiated, here's how it works: Anyone older than 13 can create a petition. Any petition that gets 150 signatures in the first 30 days becomes searchable on the site -- so basically, all you have to do is round up all your friends. Any petition that collects 25,000 signatures earns an official White House response "in a timely fashion." Any petition that falls short goes into the virtual shredder.

Predictably, this well-intentioned if meaningless gesture at transparency and openness was quickly dominated by two groups, in this order: pot-legalization activists, then Internet snark merchants. (Yes, there's some solid overlap on that Venn diagram.) In honor of this year's clever-but-soon-tiresome comedic device, here are the 14 silliest, weirdest, and most entertaining petitions from We the People.


Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 5.06.37 PM.png A classic of the genre, inspired by the vice president's insane/insanely charming stand-up routine while swearing in senators last week. Of course, the Biden reality-show push has deep roots, and The Onion probably deserves royalties; calling this "job creation" and "education" is a nice touch. The Atlantic Wire's Richard Lawson has some excellent ideas about how this might work in real life.

Signatures as of 1/7: 1,714

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 5.16.54 PM.png

For every intentionally humorous petition, there are a dozen that don't intend to be funny. They're also usually funnier. Someone has been working on their elevator pitch about table tennis, although it seems like this might not be the most pressing priority in America's public schools. Bonus points for random capitalization.

Signatures: 871

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 5.19.55 PM.png Seriously, who would think that this was a good idea?

Signatures: 5,149

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 5.21.06 PM.png

This is truly a sad situation. Losing a pet is no fun. It's probably not under the purview of the federal government, though.

Signatures: 1,218

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 5.23.32 PM.png

It's not that the U.S. has never interfered in the domestic operations of a foreign country, but it is still hard to imagine Obama intervening and imposing an electoral recount on a major ally. Also, that's a statement, not a request. Through the wonders of the Internet, however, this petition has enough signers to fill a mid-size basketball arena.

Signatures: 14,676

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 5.34.52 PM.png

So this one is fairly reasonable. Have you ever had one of these candies? They're delightful. It's like Cadbury Creme Egg but with a toy in the middle instead of a sugary goop. In July, an American couple was detained by Customs officials for trying to bring them into the country, and threatened with fines of $2,500 per egg. It seems like there might be greater dangers to American children than German candy.

Signatures: 2,687

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 5.39.41 PM.png

Ban her from what? Eating Kinder eggs? Perhaps it would be more effective to petition directly against the FISA Amendments Act.

Presented by

David A. Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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