Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dick Cheney: The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game

Dead-Eye Dick Bags a Lawyer

Ah Dick Cheney (pictured left in his warm and fuzzy "Feel the Love" guise), the Face of Armageddon, the Halliburton Boss Hog, the modern equivalent of Lionel Barrymore as mean-spirited Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life...in other words, the Embodiment of Evil in America today...is in the news again for his engaging and compassionate conservative ways. By now everyone's heard about his latest gaffe, the accidental shooting of his hunting partner in Texas over the weekend. On the serious side, the most cogent words I've read on this incident involving the poster boy of the National Rifle Association were offered by David Burn of AdPost, who observed that,"When your sport involves loaded guns there is NO ROOM for a mistake of any sort, ever. Period."

And had he hit his intended avian target instead of Harry Whittington, the fun-lovin' sportsman might have inflicted this kind of NRA-worthy damage to the quail:

Is hunting a great sport or what? (It's really too bad Dick didn't do a commentary track for the nature documentary Winged Migration.)

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

On the lighter side (is there a lighter side to Dick Cheney?), the press are already taking, um, pot-shots at the Veep of Darkness, and quite rightly so. Here are some of the best that I've been sent or run across.

1. "Cheney Alert System" from Andy Dolan:


Color-coded System Would Warn Nation of Future Attacks by Veep

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced today that his department would immediately implement a "Cheney Alert" system to warn Americans if an attack by Vice President Dick Cheney is imminent.

The Department of Homeland Security has been under pressure to respond to the widespread panic and anxiety that have gripped the nation since Mr. Cheney shot and wounded a fellow quail hunter while on a hunting trip in Texas over the weekend.

Across the country, people have holed up in their homes and hoarded food and water, fearing another senseless attack by the gun-toting vice president.

"What we have learned, the hard way, is that Dick Cheney can attack without warning," Mr. Chertoff said. "It is our hope that with this Cheney Alert system we will be able to give the American people some warning before he strikes again."

The alert system, with five color-coded levels indicating the likelihood of another brutal pellet attack by the Vice President, was derided by some in Congress such as Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del), who likened it to "closing the barn door after the horses have escaped."

"The fact is, the White House already had ample warning that Dick Cheney was going to strike, and they sat on their hands and did nothing," Mr. Biden said, referring to a Presidential Daily Brief dated February 4 with the title, "Dick Cheney Determined to Strike in US."

Elsewhere, former Education Secretary William Bennett said that he was "outraged" that an NHL gambling ring has been in operation for five years and he was never invited to participate in it.

2. David Letterman's Top Ten Dick Cheney Shooting Accident Excuses:

10. "Heart palpitation caused trigger finger to spasm"

9. "Wanted to get the Iraq mess off the front page"

8. "Not enough Jim Beam"

7. "Trying to stop the spread of bird flu"

6. "I love to shoot people"

5. "Guy was making cracks about my lesbian daughter"

4. "I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me"

3. "Excuse? I hit him, didn't I?"

2. "Until Democrats approve medicare reform, we have to make some tough
choices for the elderly"

1. "Made a bet with Gretzky's wife"

3. "Now It's Cheney's Turn To Duck" from Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Now it's Cheney's turn to duck
Comedians get off some pretty good shots


One errant shot later and he's Duck! Cheney.

Seldom do talk-show hosts, bloggers and comedy writers get such ready cannon fodder to begin the workweek as they did when Vice President Dick Cheney peppered a longtime benefactor with birdshot while hunting quail.

Local radio personalities, always hungry for topics, gorged on the Saturday incident.

"Everybody in broadcasting was expecting this to be the top (story) as soon as we heard it," said KIRO radio's Dave Ross, who hosts an afternoon show.

KTTH's morning talker David Boze agreed. He opened Monday with the accidental shooting in his 5 a.m.-to-9 a.m. slot.

"There was an immediate response," he said. "Most people joked -- things like, 'We didn't know hunters in Texas got a lawyer tag.' "

The blogosphere hummed all day. Versions of "Cheney's Got a Gun" led national and international Web sites. Tweaked Scotland's The Herald: "Cheney Bags a Lawyer."

And just that fast "Dead Eye Dick" became a candidate for the political humor Hall of Fame, joining such stalwarts as Dan Quayle's "potatoe," Bill Clinton's intern encounters, George H.W. Bush's lap vomit and Jimmy Carter's attack rabbit.

Newsweek's Andy Borowitz reported that the federal government had issued a color-coded "Cheney Alert" to warn of future attacks. "What we have learned, the hard way, is that Dick Cheney can attack without warning," a faux Homeland Security boss Michael Chertoff declared.

Leno and Letterman writers were locked and loaded, of course.

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

Jay Leno: "The weather back East has been atrocious. There was so much snow in Washington, D.C., Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fat guy thinking it was a polar bear."

On Craigslist one satirical posting had Cheney blaming the shooting on "faulty intelligence" and contributors on another forum -- mostly serious -- wondered why it took the White House 22 hours to release the information.

Local blogger David Goldstein, on his www.horsesass.org Web site, wrote that Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean's recent comparison of Cheney to former Vice President Aaron Burr turned out to be prescient. Burr was the last second-in-command to shoot someone while in office.

"Burr, as us history buffs well know, shot and killed fellow founding father Alexander Hamilton on July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, N.J., in the most famous duel in American history."

By Monday evening, Goldstein's posting had 161 responses. The 42-year-old said he knew the shooting would bring traffic, even if it won't have much of a shelf life.

When he heard about the accident, he first checked to see if the victim, Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old lawyer, was OK. When he found out the man was in stable condition, it was, um, open season.

"What about the nature of the hunting trip?" he asked in an interview. "Those hunting lodges where they raise the birds are the avian equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. You could do this at a zoo. The guy (Cheney) just likes to kill things.

"(Hitting Whittington) was probably more sporting than the shooting of the birds."

Few likely were happier about the news -- and the victim's generally good condition -- than the writers of Comedy Central's mock news program, "The Daily Show." Too busy with the bounty to answer questions, the show's producers instead sent along an advance copy of Monday night's script.

Host Jon Stewart: "For more on the story, let's go out to correspondent Ed Helms, who is live in Corpus Christie, Texas. Ed?"

Helms: "Jon, I'm here at the hospital where Austin lawyer and Republican fund-raiser Harry Whittington is in stable condition after being shot by Vice President Dick Cheney during a weekend quail-hunting expedition. ... I'll be here all day with continuous coverage of how Vice President Dick Cheney shot a 78-year-old man in the face after he mistook him for a small bird."

Even politicians took aim, including the head of Cheney's home state. Offered Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal: "I would be proud to hunt with the vice president -- cautious, but proud."

4. Freedom of Choice: But Do I Have To Choose?


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