Comics, Media Take Their Shots at Cheney

The vice president becomes a punch line for newspapers, blogs and comedians after he accidentally shoots a hunting companion.

By Matea Gold

Los Angeles Times

February 14, 2006

Once it seemed clear that Austin, Texas, lawyer Harry Whittington would survive getting accidentally shot by Vice President Dick Cheney, the incident became instant fodder for headline writers and comedians.

The foreign press zeroed in on the shooting as a metaphor for Cheney's political outlook.

The Herald in Scotland wrote, "Cheney Bags a Lawyer," while the Sydney Morning Herald headlined its online story "Cheney Hunts Quail and Everyone Else Ducks."

The blogosphere took its shots as well.

"Dick Cheney Finally Takes a Stand Against Trial Lawyers," declared the political blog Wonkette.

The public health blog Effect Measure said: "After the incident, the Vice quit for the day, as he'd bagged his limit of rich Republican contributors."

But it was the late-night comics who seemed like they couldn't get enough.

"Good news, ladies and gentlemen, we have finally located weapons of mass destruction…. It's Dick Cheney," David Letterman said Monday on CBS' "Late Show." "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 buckshot was deflected by wads of laundered cash, so he's fine," Letterman said.

On NBC's "The Tonight Show,"Jay Leno devoted most of his monologue to the hunting accident.

"I guess the guy is going to be OK," Leno said. "When the ambulance got there, out of force of habit they put Cheney on the stretcher…. Cheney's defense is that he was aiming at a quail when he shot the guy — which means that Cheney now has the worst aim of anyone in the White House since Bill Clinton.

"Dick Cheney is capitalizing on this for Valentine's Day. It's the new Dick Cheney cologne. It's called duck!"

On Comedy Central, "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart offered a little historical perspective, noting that Whittington was the first person to be shot by a vice president since Alexander Hamilton.

"Hamilton, of course, shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering," Stewart said. "Whittington? Mistaken for a bird.

"Now, this story certainly has its humorous aspects," Stewart added. "And it's easy to make fun of an incident like this. Very easy. 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 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."