Volume 75, Number 40 | February 22 -28 2006

Talking Point

V.P. shoots from hip, but doesn’t talk off the cuff

By Daniel Meltzer

Vice President Dick Cheney found his voice four days after he shot a close friend and hunting companion while reportedly trying to kill a quail last week. One of the birdshot pellets became lodged in the man’s heart.

Speaking in public finally with handpicked, administration-friendly Fox News, Cheney took responsibility for shooting at a man dressed in an orange suit while intending to kill a bird. Despite accepting blame for shooting the Texas lawyer and powerhouse Republican party fundraiser in the chest and face, arranging to have it kept out of the news for nearly 24 hours and not having paid his hunting fee, the vice president faces no charges. This was, after all, in Texas.

In the days that followed, Cheney, President Bush and virtually all major radio and television commentators, repeatedly emphasized the trauma and grief experienced… not by the victim…but by the vice president. The day after the Fox interview, many in the administration were criticizing the media for making such a fuss over such an unfortunate personal matter.

Just the day before his prearranged Fox News interview, Cheney’s speechwriters were overheard working on possible talking points in response to anticipated questions. The following comments were noted down and sent to this reporter by an unnamed source:

“I told that guy to cut it with the bird imitations!”

“Former Vice President Dan Quayle called with an understanding, if not an understandable, comment. He asked if I was out gunning for him.”

“The man has told me he’s forgiven me for what obviously was an accident. Actually told me he values having something of mine to remind him of me close to his heart.”

“A guy can’t kill a few birds to relax without the whole world finding out about it?”

“Of course I was not drinking. You’d probably be pretty surprised to know how easily a 78-year-old banker in glasses and a bright orange jacket can be mistaken for a bird.”

“Of course I was wearing my glasses. Do I wear glasses?”

“Calling this a ‘friendly fire’ incident is hitting below the belt, I think. Notice where those shots landed. I always aim high and you fellas should too.”

“I didn’t say anything sooner because I have been attending to the business of the nation, and conferring with my staff, and no, you may not see the notes of those meetings, they’re privileged.”

“Katrina? Who’s she?”

“This was not a crime, it was an accident. I am the vice president of the United States. I don’t think an investigation would be a valuable use of the taxpayers’ money in times of war when the enemy has us in his gun sights.”

“We’re in a state of war. We live in constant danger. People out there are out to kill innocent Americans. I was just trying to knock off a few birds.”

“Stuff happens.”

“No, he was not lobbying for anything.”

“Of course I’ll go quail hunting again. Wanna come along?”

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