Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:09 AM ET
The people have spoken, but it might not be what the White House wants to hear.
“We The People,” the online petition site created by the White House, started as an attempt to foster civic participation, but has become the government go-to for attracting everything from the serious to the silly.
In the last month alone, Americans have called upon the White House to remove Jerry Jones as owner of the Dallas Cowboys, as well as secure funds to “begin construction of a Death Star," a la Star Wars, by 2016.
Another petition asks the president “to immediately Nationalize the Twinkie industry and prevent our nation from losing her sweet creamy center.”
“I’m usually against twinkies but this time it's important," the petition originator, Kansas City DJ Danny Boi told TODAY. "We need to start a movement, so I put it out there and my god did it take off."
Well, not quite — the petition garnered only 4,286 signatures as of Tuesday morning. Like all petitions on the site, it needs to collect 25,000 before it can warrant an official White House response.
More than 96,000 petitions have been created on the site since its creation more than a year ago, collecting six million signatures.
While some start as jokes or in fun, most address serious topics — such as increasing NASA's budget— and a few have even affected policy debates in Washington. The White House says it is encouraged by all the public participation.
“We the People offers an opportunity for the Administration to address issues people care about, which is an important part of the democracy Americans deserve,” it said in a statement.
The program garnered headlines of its own late last week when petitioners demanded the president ban South Korean singer Psy from performing at a charity Christmas concert. The "Gangnam Style" singer is under fire for past anti-American performances, but the White House pulled down the petition, saying it has no authority over a privately run charity event.
Among the petitions to watch: One to shut down the White House petition site because "they never get a sincere response, few read them and they are ultimate worthless." That one has received only 1,000 signatures so far.