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Thursday,  March 13 12:01 AM EDT

France Demands Return of the Statue of Liberty

By Brian Briggs

Paris - France has invoked a long forgotten clause to demand that the Statue of Liberty be returned.

The people of France sent Lady Liberty as a gift to the people of the United States in 1886, but the recent row between the countries over Iraq has them rethinking their present. A graduate student in history, Jean Renault, at the École Centrale Paris uncovered a document which gives France the right to recall the gift under certain conditions.

"It says right here," said Renault pointing to the aged document, "that if America drops below a certain level on the Franklin Scale (an international measure of a country's liberty and freedoms) that France can demand the statue back."

Jacques Chirac glowed with excitement at the discovery. "Finally, the Americans will feel the wrath of the French. We plan on putting the statue in Eurodisney, or giving it to a more freedom-loving country like North Korea."

Chirac also warned that if the statue is not returned that France would "vigorously enforce its patent on French Fries, and send all its good red wine to Germany." Economists believe such moves would cripple an already weak American economy.

The news infuriated many Americans. Karl Cabot of Waukesha, Wisconsin said, "You know I sorta remember reading about a clause like that before, but I say screw the Frenchies. The statue should stay in Washington D.C. where it belongs!"

President Bush vehemently opposed the request. "America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. It says so in our constitution. God bless America."

A recent poll showed that Americans favored renaming the statue to the Statue of Quasi-Liberty, or The Torch Lady in order to keep the monument in New York harbor.

Tony Blair suggested a compromise in which the Statue of Liberty would be left exactly where it is and France would "bugger off."

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