Tucker Carlson says Michael Vick should be executed. Is he serious?

President Obama is grateful that quarterback Michael Vick got a second chance after serving jail time for running a dog-fighting business. But commentator Tucker Carlson – a vehement animal-rights activist – said Vick 'should have been executed' for killing dogs.

Tucker Carlson speaks at a rally held by Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas at the Target Center in Minneapolis in 2008. Carlson has said pro football quarterback Michael Vick 'should have been executed' for killing dogs as part of a dog-fighting business Vick ran.

‘Tis the season when news is where you find it (or make it up). So with Republicans and Democrats back home plotting political strategy and tallying campaign contributions for 2012, we’ll hit on something just ever-so-slightly over the edge into the irrelevant and ridiculous.

We’re talking here of the reaction to President Obama’s approval of the Philadelphia Eagles giving quarterback Michael Vick a second chance after his jail stint for running a particularly cruel dog-fighting operation.

The latest twist is conservative commentator Tucker Carlson’s declaration that Vick “should have been executed” for killing dogs. Mr. Carlson was filling in for Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel.

Carlson didn’t suggest the means of execution he had in mind (perhaps being thrown into a pit of angry canines). Here’s his full quote:

“I’m Christian. I’ve made mistakes. I believe fervently in second chances. Michael Vick killed dogs in a heartless and cruel way. I think, firstly, he should have been executed for that. The idea the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs is beyond the pale.”

Now it’s not like Mr. Obama called a press conference to announce his position on Vick and the Eagles. It was a brief, one-on-one conversation with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. But of course as soon as Mr. Lurie told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, it was all over the place – including on the Eagles’ website.

"The president wanted to talk about two things, but the first was Michael,'' Lurie told SI’s Mr. King. ”He said, 'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance.’ He was ... passionate about it. He said it's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.''

(The other thing Obama wanted to talk about, by the way, was Lurie’s plans for alternative energy at the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field – proving that one can be wonky, sports-minded, and philosophical all in one brief conversation.)

But really! Suggesting redemption for a millionaire professional sports figure who abused animals for fun?

The White House has been trying to spin the story by saying the main reason for Obama’s call was clean energy at the Eagles’ stadium. But at least as team owner Lurie recalls it, that wasn’t the case.

Either way, is anybody surprised that Fox News Channel commentators – even (or maybe especially) when they’re filling in, as Carlson is – take every possible chance to ding Obama? I don’t think so.

And Obama’s perhaps impolitic comment in support of a convicted animal abuser gave Carlson – who’s also a well-known animal advocate, by the way – something hot to talk about.

But it’s not just Fox newsies chewing on Obama’s ankles.

Over at the Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen is even harsher on Obama.

“The sanctimony regarding this dog killer is sickening,” Mr. Cohen writes. “Vick got a second chance not because he deserves it but because he can play football. This is the lesson we can all take from this sorry episode.”

For his part, Vick has said he’d like to have another dog some day. Can he be sincere? Here’s a true test: Obama should invite him to the White House for a little pooper-scooper duty after he’s met first dog Bo.

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