Our Drink-&-Shoot VP

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Two classic remarks from Vice President Cheney. One was made on June 20, 2005, while discussing Iraq: “The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.�
More, recently, after shooting the elderly lawyer and hunting partner: “Harry, I had no idea you were there!�

Who knew how prophetic my words would be when I referred to the Bush regime as a drive-by Administration? Less than a month after I coined the term, VP Cheney accommodated me by “accidentally� spraying Harry Whittington with birdshot while hunting quail on some rich woman’s 50,000 acre ranch located in southeast Texas. Cheney is not the first Veep to deliver a serious rudeness via the barrel of a gun.

The precedent for the position was set by Aaron Burr, Jefferson’s embittered, ill-tempered second-in-command, who blew away Alexander Hamilton in a duel after accusing the famous Federalist of slandering him. Then there’s Richard Johnson, Martin Van Buren’s VP best remembered as the military hero credited with killing, skinning and mutilating Tecumseh at a time when the Shawnee chief was attempting to unify all Native American people in a pan-African movement. What most history books never share is that Johnson was also a vulgar, foul-mouthed lout who slept with his slaves and sold off any female who refused to sleep with him. Ever wonder why Johnson is such a popular surname?

Time will only tell, whether this incident will be a lasting part of the Cheney legacy, and much is likely to depend on whether ailing attorney Whittington fully recovers. The White House initially attempted to control the spin by having ranch owner Katharine Armstrong give an uncorroborated blow-by-blow to her handpicked, local reporter.

According to Armstrong, none of the members of the hunting party had been drinking. “Zero, zippo, and I don’t drink at all,� she was quoted as saying in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. That herd mentality had the rest of the press parroting the party line which led the nation to believe the 78-year old victim had only suffered superficial wounds and deserved the scattershot for sneaking up behind Cheney.

Even though the police weren’t called until 14 hours after the shooting, and the VP now admits to having ingested alcohol, the Kennedy County’s sheriff’s department has already closed its investigation, issuing a report which clears Cheney of any culpability, stating, “There was no alcohol or misconduct.� Raise your hand, if you believe Cheney told the truth this time.

Black Star columnist Williams is an attorney and a member of the bar in NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.

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