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Dick Cheney Shoots a Hunting Buddy and Tells No One



These are the moments that make me love the rhythms of a free press.

As I write these words, White House spokesman Scott McClellan is getting handed his head over the administration's lapse in informing the press corps that the Vice President had shot a man during a hunting trip Saturday.

Press Secretary Scott McClellan's story -- which he stuck to, despite a heated grilling from assembled media -- was that Dick Cheney agreed to let the owner of the ranch where he was hunting notify the press about the accident, in which he sprayed 78-year-old Austin lawyer Harry Whittington with buckshot about the face and neck around 5:30 p.m Saturday.

NBC reporter David Gregory, displaying his increasingly deft ability to sum up the total idiocy of McClellan's lame-o excuses, asked incredulously: The vice president let a private citizen deliver this news to the world? And she chose, in her infinite wisdom, to tell the 60,000-circulation Corpus Christi Caller-Times only?

Amazingly, for those of us who enjoy seeing McClellan twist in the wind, this was not the best tidbit. The press secretary then said that neither he nor the White House even knew the Vice President was the shooter until about 6 a.m. Sunday, 12 hours later.

McClellan should have known there is no fury like a reporter scooped. And a roomful of national reporters scooped by a small local newspaper under fishy circumstances was bound to generate a tsunami of pointed questions.

It's hard to understand why McClellan gets so agitated during these exchanges. He's asking the White House press corps to believe he went to bed Saturday night not knowing whether Dick Cheney shot someone, totally at peace with the notion that the woman who owns the ranch would release details of the accident to a local newspaper with no involvement from his office.

Dan Froomkin, author of the controversial column Washington Briefing, asks the best question we didn't hear during today's press scrum -- Where the heck is Dick Cheney, anyway? Shouldn't he be explaning to America what happened instead of the administration's professional press pinata?

Of course, Fox News Channel followed the press conference with a lame-brained segment featuring an official from a hunting advocacy group, explaining how such an accident could occur and why it doesn't mean that hunting is unsafe (despite lots of prompting from the anchors, however, she wouldn't let Cheney off the hook totally for shooting without warning).

The jokes are flying already: a list of people others wish would go hunting with Cheney next (Dubya and Pat Robertson top many lists); quips that Cheney used faulty intelligence; and a photoshopped image indicating Whittington was a code name for Cheney's indicted Chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

I can't wait to see the Daily Show tonight, either. But what I'm really hoping for is an explanation for why this White House can't tell the world about a hunting accident without looking like a bizarre mix of the Keystone Kops and the Watergate conspirators.

UPDATE: You're listing them anyways in the comment section, so let's hear more -- Your coolest Dick Cheney shoots somebody joke. Best one gets some awful promotional item I have received in the mail (yet to be named)!

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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