Tuesday, February 14, 2006



Vice President Dick Cheney became the first U.S. VP to shoot someone in more than 200 years on the weekend, when he unloaded his shotgun into the face of a friend while hunting small, defenceless birds on a Texan ranch.

But as Fox News pointed out, "it was only buckshot". That's a shotgun load of hundreds of tiny ball bearings.

And they were supposedly shooting quail, tiny birds at best.

Bizarrely, Cheney and his kill-horny friends were claimed to have been planning to sit down and have the birds they shot for lunch. Would that be before or after they picked out the hundreds of tiny ball bearings and shrapnel that would have torn a bird the size of a quail to pieces?

Interestingly, the shooting revealed that Cheney now travels, at all times, with a medical crew, including a doctor, surgeon and nurse, plus he has an ambulance on 24 hour call, and access to a private jet to whisk him off for another round of open heart surgery. Cheney's had four major heart attacks and has been opened up so often there was talk of sealing the wound in his chest cavity with velcro, to make it easier to get in there the next time around.

The last time a US Vice President blew someone away was two centuries ago. Then VP Aaron Burr nailed Alexander Hamilton in a duel with pistols.

A witness to ShotGun Cheney's shooting described it thus : "(Cheney's friend) was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good. It broke the skin. It knocked him silly."

US late night talk show hosts have been running hot with this golden slice of material. Here's some excerpts from the best :

David Letterman, The Late Show, CBS : "....we have finally located weapons of mass destruction: It's Dick Cheney.

"But here is the sad part before the trip Donald Rumsfeld had denied the guy's request for body armor."

"We can't get Bin Laden, but we nailed a 78-year-old attorney."

Jay Leno, The Tonight Show, ABC : " …Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fellow hunter, a 78-year-old lawyer. In fact, when people found out he shot a lawyer, his popularity is now at 92 percent.

"I think Cheney is starting to lose it. After he shot the guy he screamed, 'Anyone else want to call domestic wire tapping illegal?'"

Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, Comedy Central : "Now, this story certainly has its humorous aspects. … But it also raises a serious issue, one which I feel very strongly about. … moms, dads, if you're watching right now, I can't emphasize this enough: Do not let your kids go on hunting trips with the vice president. I don't care what kind of lucrative contracts they're trying to land, or energy regulations they're trying to get lifted it's just not worth it. He'll shoot them in the face."

Cheney blew away his mate late in the afternoon of Saturday, February 11. President Bush was informed around 8pm. But the US media didn't find out about the story until it appeared on a local news website in Texas, around 3pm, Sunday afternoon, February 12.

And the White House media flacks and hacks were furious. How dare the White House not tell them first? How dare some little local newspaper get the scoop of the year, thus far?

So yesterday, the White House media went nuts and wasted most of a press conference with WH spokesman Scott McClellan trying to find out if the White House had tried to cover up the vice-presidential shooting of a lawyer. Amazingly, the media seem stunned that the White House would try and hose down such an event.

They haven't learned by now?

So much media attention was focused on Shotgun Cheney's Saturday afternoon blast that the US media barely seemed to notice the Hurricane Katrina Report, compiled by Republicans, that absolutely tore strips off the Bush Administration's handling of the hurricane aftermath, and insinuated that bad management, general disinterest and pathetic spin cost the lives of hundreds of poor, black New Orleans residents.

The mainstream media had something more important to focus on. Themselves. And how they were beaten to the Shogtun Cheney scoop by "a local newspaper", of all things.

Here's an excerpt from the press con yesterday, the key words here are "check with his office":

Q Has the Vice President always had a hunting license whenever he's gone hunting? There was an item in one of the wire stories this morning that he had a license prior to November, but other stories say he goes every year to Texas --
MR. McCLELLAN: Check with his office. I don't have those facts.
Q Do you know whether he's taken a hunting safety course?
MR. McCLELLAN: My understanding is that he had the hunting license for this hunting trip.
Q What about other trips where he's taken --
MR. McCLELLAN: You can check with his office.
Q Has he also -- has he taken a hunting safety course in Texas?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'd check with his office. I don't have those facts, Mike. I haven't checked into that.
Q Will the Vice President be available soon to answer all questions, himself, about the incident?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you ought to direct questions like that to his office. He has a press office you can direct questions to.
Jessica -- keeping with the practice of at least two or three reporters from each news organization today.
Q You've repeatedly said that the Vice President's Office will share this information with us. Will you tell us -- will you now ask them to share this information with us, because they're not.
MR. McCLELLAN: Share what information?
Q Details of what happened during the shooting and more information about --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Mrs. Armstrong provided that information. She was the eyewitness to what took place.
Q Can we get someone from his office in here to answer --
Q Why can't we get someone from his office to answer some questions?
Q Or get him?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, talk to his office. I think they have provided a response to the questions.
Q Not that information.
Q We're not getting any of that information.
Q Is it proper for the Vice President to offer his resignation or has he offered his resignation --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's an absurd question. Go ahead, Ken.
Q Can we get someone from the Vice President's Office in here to answer all these questions that you're deferring?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can ask questions to his -- direct questions to his office.
Q I'm sure they're overwhelmed. It seems like it would be more efficient --
MR. McCLELLAN: Understood, but they're the ones who can provide additional information if there is any to provide.
Q Or not.
Q You say Mrs. Armstrong was the eyewitness. There were other eyewitnesses. Can you tell us who they were, and --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the Vice President's team was with him. You ought to check that with the Vice President's Office.

Through the rest of the press conference, Scott McClellan repeatedly tried to mind virus that responsibility for the shooting lay solely with the victim, not Shotgun Cheney. The victim failed to identify himself as not being a tasty bit of gamebird lunch, so Cheney blew him away.

Here's the police report on Shotgun Cheney's Saturday afternoon adventure from The Smoking Gun.

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