"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Unloading on Cheney

As predicted, the Dick Cheney shooting story has opened a floodgate of jokes and wisecracks from pundits, comedians, and even fellow politicians. At a luncheon yesterday, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush seemed happy to receive a bright orange Farm Bureau lapel sticker. Bush quipped that the sticker might make him more visible, adding "I'm a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in." It has also been widely noted that in a 2000 interview with the Houston Chronicle, Jeb's brother, President George Bush, hailed Cheney as "somebody who is going to shoot straight with the American people." Ouch.

Here are just a few of the gags heard so far from the professionals:

The Late Show With David Letterman
  • "Good news, ladies and gentlemen, 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."
  • "The guy who got gunned down, he is a Republican lawyer and a big Republican donor and fortunately the buck shot was deflected by wads of laundered cash. So he's fine. He took a little in the wallet."
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
  • "Although it is beautiful here in California, 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."
  • "That's the big story over the weekend. 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?"'
The Daily Show with 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."
  • "Now, this story also raises a serious issue, one which I as a parent 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. He'll shoot them in the face."
On a more serious note, aside from the accident itself and the delay in making the information public, the incident also raises questions about the practice of "canned hunts", where sport animals and fowl are raised in captivity and released in a confined area to be shot by patrons of exclusive private clubs. Many rank-and-file sportsmen, who hunt game in their native habitat, believe that shooting animals that cannot escape is unethical and unsportsmanlike. The Humane Society of the United States released a statement reading, in part:
The Humane Society of the United States deplores the shooting of captive birds and animals where traditional "fair chase" hunting ethics are discarded and kills are guaranteed. We are campaigning to outlaw canned hunts through federal and state legislation.
In December of 2003, the Vice President attended a similar canned hunt in Pennsylvania where 500 farm-raised pheasants were released for the benefit of Cheney's 10-person hunting party. The group killed at least 417 of the birds, and also shot an unknown number of captive mallards in the same afternoon. The event prompted this reaction from Wayne Pacelle, a Humane Society senior vice president: "This wasn't a hunting ground. It was an open-air abattoir, and the vice president should be ashamed to have patronized this operation and then slaughtered so many animals. If the Vice President and his friends wanted to sharpen their shooting skills, they could have shot skeet or clay, not resorted to the slaughter of more than 400 creatures planted right in front of them as animated targets."


  • At 2/14/2006 11:39:00 PM, Blogger Janelle said…

    I heard on the news today that the guy Cheney shot had a mild heart attack due to the bird shot that his body is full of....and I heard that there is over 200 pellets in the guy. Now bird shot spreads after it's been fired from a gun so he had to have been pretty close to Cheney when he was shot (or so I am assuming). I also heard that the guy wandered away from the party and didn't tell anyone where he was going to be. If that's the case, anyone dumb enough not to tell people with a mass amount of ammo where you are deserves to get shot. In hunter safety isn't that one of the firt things they teach a person is to always let your hunting party know where you are?!?!

  • At 2/15/2006 09:12:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Toast said…

    Well, I don't think anyone "deserves" to be shot, no matter how stupid they are. It seems to me that the whole point of safety is that you know there's going to be human error, so you follow procedures that make it less likely to result in tragedy when it happens. I'm not a hunter, but I've read a lot of opinions about this from people that are. Most agree that yes, Whittington made a mistake by not announcing his presence as he approached the shooting line. Others say the responsibility for safety ultimately rests with the shooter, who should always be aware of the location of everyone in his hunting party before pulling the trigger.

    What everyone seems to agree on, however, is that this has been a public relations disaster that has only reinforced Cheney's image as distant and aloof. The stonewalling seems to suggests that there's something darker going on that's being covered up...like that maybe Cheney had a few beers in him at the time, or this guy was a LOT closer to him than the 30 yards that's been claimed. Who knows? But the way it's being handled only fuels this sort of speculation.

  • At 2/15/2006 09:40:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Toast said…

    I'm not a hunter either so I do not understand how he had 200 pellets in him! 200! Do they come out of the gun as a spray? That's a lot of ammo embedded in that guy! Please help me understand!

  • At 2/15/2006 01:08:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Toast said…

    Brandi: Yes, a 28-gauge shotgun used for hunting quail can have anywhere from 200 to 500 small pellets in each round, depending on pellet size and "load" (the total weight of birdshot in the shell). They indeed fan out in a spray pattern as they travel. This means a couple of things: your aim doesn't have to be as accurate as if you were using a single bullet. At 20-30 yards out, your effective target zone can be as much as 8-10 feet across. Also, if the pellets were much bigger, there'd be nothing but feathers and feet left of the bird you hit. This post may give you a better concept of it.


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