Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 233)

February 20, 2006
The Shot Heard Round The World Edition

Questions of incompetence. An inability to shoot straight. An instinct for cover-up. An attitude of lawlessness. A tendency to blame the victim. As goes Dick Cheney (1,2,4), so goes the Bush administration. But as usual, Fox News (3,10) is there to give George & Co. a helping hand, while Congressional Republicans (5) are more than happy to ignore their oversight duties. Elsewhere, The Media (8) focuses on the really important issues, and Ann Coulter (9) joins the ranks of the "feeble minded." Enjoy, and don't forget the key...

1Dick Cheney gun nut accident/medical covering your ass excessive spin
So, I don't know if you heard about this or not, but last week the vice president of the United States of America shot a 78-year-old man in the face.

Just kidding, of course you heard about it. Dick Cheney "peppered" his hunting companion with "BBs" His unfortunate companion, Harry Whittington, who, let's be fair, deserved to get shot because he sneaked up on Cheney without announcing his presence, ended up "bruised more than bloodied" but was taken to ICU as a precaution. He remained in a "very stable" condition until he had a "silent heart attack." But apparently he's feeling better than ever now. See, his pride was hurt more than anything else. He later apologized, saying "My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice-President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week."

"I'm very sorry that I ruined the vice president's weekend
when my face got in the way of his birdshot."

And that was the "official" story. The real story? Hard to tell - there have been so many inconsistencies in the investigation of the Cheney shooting that it's not easy to determine where the truth ends and fantasy begins.

Cheney was cleared of any wrongdoing remarkably quickly. Not bad for a guy who admittedly drank at least one beer before going hunting, didn't have the proper stamp on his hunting license, violated several of the cardinal rules of hunting, and subsequently shot a guy in the face. Especially when you consider that the main witness to the event didn't even see what happened - Katherine Armstrong admitted at the time that as she saw Cheney's security detail running towards the scene, "The first thing that crossed my mind was he [Cheney] had a heart problem."

Despite all this, George W. Bush said he was "satisfied" with Cheney's account. Of course he's satisfied. Doesn't want to get in trouble with the boss, does he?

2Dick Cheney booze booze booze covering your ass
But let's dig a little deeper into this near-fatal face-shooting "mishap." In an interview with Fox News (more on that in a moment) the vice president said that this was the "worst day of my life." Thanks to DUer Stephanie, we can take a closer look at how the worst day of Dick Cheney's life panned out.

First, Dick enjoyed at least one beer with his barbecue lunch at around 1PM. Then he went out and shot Harry Whittington at about 5:30PM. But rather than going to the hospital to see how his friend was doing, he went back to the house and, according to Katherine Armstrong, "fixed himself a cocktail." Then Armstrong, her brother-in-law, and a friend went to the hospital to check on Whittington while Dick Cheney had dinner. Armstrong said Cheney was "very worried," but apparently not worried enough to prevent him from going to bed at around 10PM.

The next morning, the vice president decided that it might not be a bad idea if Katherine Armstrong were to tell the media that, you know, the vice president of the United States had shot a man in the face. He then sat down for a nice quail lunch. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, he went to the hospital to visit Whittington.

So let's just recap the worst day of the vice president's life:

SATURDAY MID-DAY: Barbecue, beer
SATURDAY AFTERNOON: Shoot man in face
SATURDAY EVENING: Cocktails, dinner
SUNDAY MORNING: Grudgingly inform media
SUNDAY MID-DAY: Quail lunch
SUNDAY AFTERNOON: Visit man in hospital

Questions, questions. Did Dick Cheney have more than one beer before going out hunting? Why did he continue to consume alcohol after the accident? Why did he wait until Sunday morning to tell the media and meet with local police? America might not look too favorably on the vice president if it turned out that he had been boozing just before he shot a man in the face.

But hey, it's not like Dick Cheney has a history of getting into trouble while drinking, right?

3Fox News covering your ass partisanship hypocrisy
It took a few days, but after realizing that his "blame the victim" defense didn't seem to be working, the vice president generously took full responsibility for the accident - in a taped interview on Fox News. Big of him.

But one interesting side-effect of last week's Executive Shooting was the grand unmasking of Fox News as nothing more than the national propaganda arm of the Bush administration. Yes, I know that Fox have been shilling for the Bush administration all along, but last week's performance really put the icing on the cake. From Bill O'Reilly saying that the shooting "affects no one, means nothing" (unlike presidential blowjobs, presumably) to Neil Cavuto claiming that the press corps was "trying to create a White House scandal that simply does not exist," Fox News' butt-naked effort to sweep the story under the rug was about as subtle as, well, being shot in the face.

That's obviously why Dick Cheney chose to explain himself in a cosy, taped chat with Fox's Brit Hume, rather than giving a press conference. And what a chat it was. Hume failed to ask Cheney any really serious questions, such as why the shooting was not reported immediately, and instead stuck to such pressing matters as - I kid you not - this:

HUME: Now, is it clear that - he had caught part of the shot, is that right?

CHENEY: - part of the shot. He was struck in the right side of his face, his neck and his upper torso on the right side of his body.

HUME: And you - and I take it, you missed the bird.

CHENEY: I have no idea.

To be fair, Hume did manage to accidentally squeeze the "one beer at lunch" admission from Cheney. But Fox News apparently decided that the nation didn't really need to know about Cheney's drinking and removed the comment from their televised broadcast of the interview, their webcast of the interview, and the transcript.

Can't you just smell that fair and balanced coverage?

4Dick Cheney covering your ass crook lying
Let's move on now from the vice president shooting a man in the face and focus on another interesting tidbit that cropped up during Cheney's Fox News interview. In a brief aside on the outing of Valerie Plame, Brit Hume and Cheney had this exchange:

HUME: Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a Vice President has the authority to declassify information?

CHENEY: There is an executive order to that effect.

HUME: There is.


HUME: Have you done it?

CHENEY: Well, I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order ...

HUME: You ever done it unilaterally?

CHENEY: I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President, but also includes the Vice President.

Last week it was revealed that Scooter Libby recently testified under oath that he was authorized to disclose classified information "by his superiors." Not only that, but it was recently alleged that Valerie Plame and her team were "part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran." According to Raw Story, the CIA's own assessment of the situation is that it would be "impaired for up to 'ten years' in its capacity to adequately monitor nuclear proliferation on the level of efficiency and accuracy it had prior to the White House leak of Plame Wilson's identity."

So this is Brit Hume's way of trying to cover Cheney's ass. See, if the vice president has the authority to declassify such information, then it doesn't matter if he told Scooter Libby to out a CIA agent, right?

Well, not quite. Executive Order 13292, which Cheney was referring to, does not give the vice president unilateral authority to declassify secret CIA documents or information. In fact, according to a great analysis of the situation by Mark Levey on the DU message board, "Federal law states that it is a felony for officials to disclose the contents of classified documents to persons who aren't authorized to receive them. ... Cheney would have first had to request that George Tenet authorize Agency declassification. There is no record that such permission was ever sought or obtained."

It's a good job Cheney's used to wearing orange on his hunting trips. It shouldn't take him long to adjust to a jumpsuit.

5Congressional Republicans unconstitutional partisanship partisanship
For some time now Democrats have been insisting on an investigation into the Bush administration's wiretapping program - and for good reason. Not only has the administration been breaking the law, they seem to be proud of the fact, and are using this as an opportunity to eliminate the system of checks and balances that the Constitution demands.

Congressional Republicans, of course, see it differently. Apparently they believe that their job is not to act as a check or balance on the Executive Branch or to provide any kind of oversight for what the Bush adminstration might be up to, but rather to roll out the red carpet and play a fanfare for Mad King George.

Last week, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) announced that he had struck a deal with the administration. Rather than investigating the spying program, he's simply going to allow the administration to "give lawmakers more information on the nature of the program" - apparently at their own discretion.

Meanwhile, in the House, Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said that he had "unilaterally submitted 51 questions to the Attorney General, and that the Attorney General would testify at a general oversight hearing at some undetermined point in the future," according to Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). Conyers noted that some of the questions are "such softballs it is hard to take them seriously" - for example, number 18 reads, "Do you agree that it is debatable as to whether the United States homeland is still a target of al Qaeda?"

Tell you what, why don't we just get rid of the Legislative Branch altogether? After all, Bush said it himself: "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." Long live King George!

6The Bush Administration helping the terrorists helping the terrorists
Port security was a big issue during the 2004 election, with the White House announcing that "The President has significantly increased funding for the Coast Guard, including dramatic increases for port security and acquisition of new resources." As recently as July of 2005, Bush was touting port security as one of his major concerns.

But last week it was revealed that "A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism."

It's hard for me to figure out how Bush's remaining supporters can possibly justify this action, although I'm sure they'll come up with something. At least, they will once Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have explained it to them.

6The Abu Ghraib "Frathouse Pranksters" just plain evil
Last week, more photos of torture at Abu Ghraib prison made their way into the open after being broadcast by Australian television. The pictures were taken at the same time as the ones released in 2004, but are even more disturbing - from bloodsoaked prison cells to a bound prisoner apparently being sodomized with a banana. Here's the official U.S. response:

The US government felt that it was better that the photographs not be released, not because that there was anything to hide,Ö but simply, that one, that we felt that it was an invasion of the detainees themselves to have these photographs come out and in addition it would simply fan the flames around the world and cause potentially further violence.

Yes, I suppose one could call having a banana rammed into one's anus "an invasion of the detainees." As for fanning flames around the world, I've got two suggestions for the Bush administration: 1) they should have listened to everyone from the Center for American progress to (gag) Neal Boortz, who were advocating for the release of all the photos at the same time, and 2) they shouldn't have implicitly authorized American troops to ram bananas into people's anuses.

The Bush administration's bevy of media brown-nosers are, of course, shocked. Watch in the coming days as they bemoan the fact that this is "old news" and how it serves no purpose to see more of these pictures. Never mind the fact that these media brown-nosers are, by and large, the same people who called the original pictures mere "frathouse pranks."

Of course they don't want to talk about it any more. They framed the issue as "a bit of harmless fun." Fresh images of Iraqis with their throats slit and cell floors awash in blood somewhat undercut that theory.

8The Media dumb
And what is the media focusing on while the vice president feloniously declassifies top secret information, Congressional Republicans cover up the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping operation, our ports are sold to the UAE, and yet more photos belying the claim that "we do not torture" are released to the public?

This unedited screenshot from MSNBC last week should give you a clue:

I mean, come on now.

9Ann Coulter dumb dumb dumb crook
In the past, Ann Coulter has had plenty to say about people who are too "feeble-minded" to vote. But in light of last week's news, perhaps Ann should take a good long look in the mirror (assuming she can find one that won't instantly crack).

It turns out that according to the Palm Beach Post, "Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections records show Coulter voted last week in Palm Beach's council election. Problem is: She cast her ballot in a precinct 4 miles north of the precinct where she owns a home." Not only that but, "She wrote down an Indian Road address instead of Seabreeze on her voter's registration application. And she signed to certify the information as true."

So what? Well, here's the funny part: in Florida, knowingly voting in the wrong precinct is a felony, and lying on a voter registration form can get you a $5000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Ah, we can but hope.

10Fox News fearmongering excessive spin
And finally, the "news" channel everyone loves to hate wasn't just covering Dick Cheney's ass last week, they were stepping up to the plate for Our Great Leader too. We noted in last week's list that George W. Bush recently made a rather pathetic attempt to put a scare into the American people by claiming to have foiled a 2002 terror plot to blow up the Library Tower in Los Angeles. Whether or not the Bush administration actually foiled that plot is highly debatable - but let's give a big hand to Fox News for doing their best to dress the story up.

The problem for Fox News, of course, was that the Library Tower in L.A. isn't very exciting. It just sort of sits there, like any other large building. How could they make their coverage of this particular non-event a little more... engaging?

And then they had it! If you've seen the movie Independence Day, you may recall that when the aliens attack Earth, one of the first things they blow up is - yes - the Library Tower. And so big props to Fox for coming up with this:

That's right, folks! Not the actual Library Tower being destroyed by terrorists, but a remarkable simulation of the Library Tower being destroyed by, er, aliens.

Perhaps Fox should start illustrating all their news stories with clips from science fiction movies...

See you next week!

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