Leading article: Lame ducks

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It may not have been as impressive as Lazarus's but it was nonetheless quite a comeback. A hunter in Florida shot a female ring-neck duck wounding it severely in the wing and leg. Believing it dead, he plonked it in his fridge in his home in Tallahassee.

Two days later, when his wife opened the fridge, the dazed creature raised its head. Rather than sending for her husband and his shotgun to finish the job, the wife took pity on the animal and had it sent to the animal hospital.

According to the staff of Goose Creek Animal Sanctuary the creature now has a 75 per cent chance of survival. They also say that its low metabolism rate probably helped it survive its time in the fridge. According to the Goose Creek veterinarian David Hale: "This shows how tough and adaptable wildlife are."

All true. But Mr Hale overlooks the political significance of this tale. Here we have hope for lame ducks everywhere. Messrs Bush, Blair and Chirac will be following this case with interest. It may be cold for them in the political freezer, having been blasted out of the sky by circumstance and their political opponents.

But as the fate of this lucky duck shows: it ain't over till its over.

Yet Mr Bush, Mr Blair and M. Chirac shouldn't celebrate too heartily. Mr Hale says the Floridian duck will probably never be well enough to be released into the wild. In other words: "lame duck limps on".

Perhaps not such an encouraging example for the leaders of the free world after all.

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