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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

One Nation Undecided, But Open to All Offers

A U.S. federal appeals court ruled last week that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional because the pledge contains the phrase "under God," a decision blasted by Democrats, Republicans and brand managers, who say the United States is making a grave mistake in dropping its principal sponsor.

"Over the years, the U.S. under God has been a great draw for the major players -- Einstein, Solzhenitsyn, John Lennon,'' said government marketing analyst Gil Treacle. "Without God's brand recognition and infinite marketing powers, you risk losing the marquee names to competitors. Then the networks don't renew, the money dries up, the fans revolt, and the next thing you know -- you're Argentina.''

While Congress added the words "under God" to the pledge only in 1954, God has been the title patron of the United States since its founding in 1776.

The three-judge panel that voted to sever that 226-year relationship has come under heavy fire, but some have defended the decision, saying it is wrong to force religion on anyone.

"The phrase 'under God' clearly violates the First Amendment's separation of church and state," said McDonald's CEO Jack Greenberg. "But there is nothing in the Constitution that separates chicken and state, which is why we're proposing, 'One nation, six chicken McNuggets and a medium Coke, all for $1.99.'"

The Justice Department, assigned the difficult task of finding a replacement, has not responded to the McDonald's offer but promised it has been in contact with several entities ("One nation, 24,000 Starbucks") interested in having their brands associated with America. Until an agreement is reached, however, the United States will advertise the search by replacing the phrase "One nation, under God," with "One nation, (sponsorship opportunities available)."

A handful of Americans have insisted the United States can get along just fine without a principal patron. The suggestion that the pledge phrase be regularly updated to reflect the national mood, however, has so far attracted little interest; a CNN/Gallup poll found that only 10 percent of respondents would feel comfortable reciting "One nation, under indictment."

President George W. Bush was initially reported to have favored "One nation, under me," but Vice President Dick Cheney told him no.

And in Europe, the principal reaction seemed to be one of confusion. "I don't understand this. I always thought it was 'One nation, we are God,' " said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "Oh my, I've been worshiping them for nothing."

Andrew Marlatt, the author of "Economy of Errors: SatireWire Gives Business the Business," contributed this comment to The Washington Post.