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Right to petition White House no laughing matter

Several thousand Americans, for example, are urging President Obama to nationalize the troubled Twinkies industry to prevent the loss of the snack cake’s ‘‘sweet creamy center.’’

AP/File

Several thousand Americans, for example, are urging President Obama to nationalize the troubled Twinkies industry to prevent the loss of the snack cake’s ‘‘sweet creamy center.’’

WASHINGTON — Forget the fiscal cliff: When it comes to the nation’s most pressing concerns, other matters trump financial calamity.

Several thousand Americans, for example, are urging President Obama to nationalize the troubled Twinkies industry to prevent the loss of the snack cake’s ‘‘sweet creamy center.’’

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Thousands more have signed petitions calling on the White House to replace the courts with a single Hall of Justice; remove Jerry Jones as owner of the Dallas Cowboys; give federal workers a holiday on Christmas Eve; allow members of the military to put their hands in their pockets; and begin construction of a ‘‘Star Wars”-style Death Star by 2016.

And that’s just within the past month.

The people have spoken, but it might not be what the Obama administration expected to hear.

More than a year after it was launched, an ambitious White House online petition program aimed at encouraging civic participation has become cluttered with thousands of demands that are often little more than extended Internet jokes.

As quirky as some of the most popular petitions are, White House officials profess to be encouraged by public interest and participation.

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