Monday, February 13, 2006


Okay. You know what this post is going to be about.

I genuinely believed that Dick Cheney's "hunting accident" over the weekend would be beyond satire. One-liners? Not a problem. There will be a million of them floating around by the time the late-night comics have finished with the story. But some things (like Henry Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize, at least according to Tom Lehrer) just appear to be beyond satire.

Clearly, I underestimated Tom Borowitz. His column today begins with these words:

Vice President Dick Cheney revealed today that he shot a fellow hunter while on a quail hunting trip over the weekend because he believed the man was the fugitive terror mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Mr. Cheney acknowledged that the man he sprayed with pellets on Saturday was not al-Zawahiri but rather Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old millionaire lawyer from Austin, blaming the mix-up on “faulty intelligence.”

Go ahead. Read the whole thing. Then come back. I'm not done with this yet.

Here are my modest contributions to the Cheney-palooza:

  • So Cheney shot a lawyer. What's the big deal? The legal limit in Texas is ten.
  • In spite of the fact that there was an ambulance present in the vice president's entourage, Cheney insisted on carrying Whittington to the hospital strapped to the hood of his pickup truck.
  • Of course, most Americans were simply relieved that Cheney wasn't the one shot. If anything were to happen to him, George Bush would become president.
  • Before Whittington was taken to the hospital, Cheney insisted that the ambulance driver stop at a taxidermist's so he could get an estimate.
  • I'm not suggesting anything, but doesn't Dick Cheney sometimes go hunting with Antonin Scalia?

Foreign newspapers and on-line news sites got a little more creative with their headlines about the Cheney story than most American papers did, but it's worth noting that the Washington Post seems to have loosened up a bit. Columnist Eugene Robinson's comment on the episode ran under the headline "Ready, Fire, Aim." Dan Froomkin criticized the slow response of the White House in a column entitled "Shoots, Hides and Leaves."

Care to see what the professionals said? Read on.

Jon Stewart: "Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a man during a quail hunt ... making 78-year-old Harry Whittington the first person shot by a sitting veep since Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, of course, (was) shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird."

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

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

Jon Stewart (again): "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."

The Nation notes that it is now obvious that Cheney's five draft deferments were a good thing: "It has become clear that Cheney was doing the country a service when he avoided service."

Just don't forget to read Borowitz.

[Update: Borowitz does it again. Here's the opening line of his second Cheney column: "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."]