'Boss Hog' of 'Duck Dynasty' TV show invited to attend big Obama speech

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[January 29, 2014]  LOS ANGELES (Reuters) "Duck Dynasty" reality television star Willie "Boss Hog" Robertson was on the invitation list to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night, compliments of a congressman from his home state of Louisiana.

Newly elected Representative Vance McAllister, a Republican, said on Twitter that Robertson would be in the U.S. House of Representatives chamber, where Obama was to lay out his policy agenda for the year.

"I'm happy to announce that my friend, constituent & small business owner @williebosshog will be attending tonight's #SOTU as my guest," McAllister tweeted  including the younger Robertson's Twitter handle and the "#SOTU" hashtag, or search term, for the State of the Union address.

Robertson's wife, Korie, who also appears on the show, was given a guest ticket to the speech by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who tweeted a photo of himself with the couple. Graham, a Republican, is up for re-election this year.

Robertson, 41, is a son of "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson, who was temporarily suspended from the hit show by cable television network A&E last month for making anti-gay remarks in a magazine interview. Other quotes in the interview were criticized as racist.

Phil Robertson's suspension sparked a national debate over tolerance and religion, with several Republican politicians and conservative figures coming to his defense.

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The patriarch, who never apologized for his remarks, was reinstated after fans protested and big-name corporate sponsors stuck by the show.

Willie Robertson is the chief executive officer of Duck Commander, a family-run business that specializes in duck-hunting gear and whose family's life is the subject of "Duck Dynasty," which averages about 8 million viewers per episode. The show is in its fifth season.

CEO Robertson supported and endorsed McAllister in November during the Louisiana politician's successful campaign in a special election for a vacant congressional seat in the Pelican State's Fifth District.

Robertson  who, like other male members of his family, sports a trademark long beard and long hair  is often seen wearing an American flag-style bandanna on his head.

If he attended, he wouldn't be on the House floor with the representatives, senators, Cabinet members, Supreme Court justices and other dignitaries assembled for Obama's speech. "Boss Hog" would be up in the visitor gallery.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Eric Kelsey and Jonathan Oatis)

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