Talk about making sacrifices and tightening the belt. Bo, the Portuguese water dog that Senator Ted Kennedy gave to the Obama family as a present, apparently flies in his own private jet. That, at least, is the claim that seems to have gone viral on the Internet over the weekend.
"As the rest of us toil on the unemployment line, as millions of Americans find their retirement accounts dwindling, their hours at work cut, and their pay scale trimmed, King Barack and Queen Michelle are flying their little doggie, Bo, on his own special jet airplane for his own little vacation adventure," wrote Warner Todd Houston, a blogger on Publius Forum.
The rumor caught our attention, and not just because we're fascinated with the pet air travel industry. Is Bo really commanding his own jet? We decided to look into it.
We quickly traced the origin of the rumors to the Morning Sentinel, a newspaper based in Waterville, Maine. On July 17, 2010, the paper published an account of the First Family's visit to the state's Acadia National Park. Among the details was a reference to Bo.
"Arriving in a small jet before the Obamas was the first dog, Bo, a Portuguese water dog given as a present by the late U.S. Sen Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and the president's personal aide Reggie Love, who chatted with Baldacci," the article stated. It seems that some people took this to mean that Bo actually arrived in his own jet.
Air Force One is usually a Boeing 747, but the Trenton airport runway was too small for the plane, so the Obamas opted for a Gulfstream G3, the article stated. That plane can accommodate up to 19 passengers. To fit everyone in -- the President always travels with multiple staffers and aides -- the Obamas decided to travel in two smaller airplanes, the second of which carried several White House aides and Bo.
Indeed, the Sentinel article was updated to clarify that there were many other people in the jet that carried Bo. "Today's story about the arrival of the Obamas said the Obamas' dog and one aide arrived on a small jet before the First Family, but there were other occupants on the plane, including several other staffers. The presidential party took two small jets to the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton because the airport was too small to accommodate the president's usual jet."
To be thorough, we also checked with the White House. Katherine Bedingfield of the White House Office of Media Affairs told us that the claim is "baseless and absurd." Bo does not even require his own seat, and during the Maine trip he traveled on a government-owned plane with White House staff.
We figured that at least some of the bloggers were being satirical, but from our review of reader comments that followed many of the entries, it's pretty clear that there are those who actually took this stuff seriously, so we wanted to set the record straight.
So, Bo did indeed arrive in a separate jet, but it's ridiculous to claim that he has his own airplane. He traveled on a government-owned plane with government staffers who didn't fit in the small Gulfstream G3 that the First Family had to take because of the physical limitations of the Trenton airport runway. We rate this False.