Cheney Shoots Fellow Hunter; Late-Nite Comic Writers Rejoice
The press and blogosphere are starting to get into a froth over the story out of Texas that our Vice-President, Citizen Dick Cheney, accidentally shot and wounded a companion while hunting for quail at a Texas ranch on Saturday. I'm really trying not to wallow in all the tasteless jokes one could make here (though if Cheney wanted to shoot someone in the wilderness, he passed up five opportunities to do so 40 years back). I do have to point out, however, that on one of the Sunday talk shows this weekend, Howard Dean referred to Aaron Burr while talking about Cheney's possible involvement in the Valerie Plame leak. Did he already somehow know that Cheney had just become the second Vice-President to shoot a man while in that office?
I think it's likely the left blogosphere will gin up a lot of wacky conspiracy theories around this incident. (In fact, I wrote one myself on DailyKos--in part to see if people would take it seriously given how over the top it was, and in part because, as I wrote in the post, so much of the Bush administration really has unfolded like a fourth-rate political potboiler novel that I can't totally rule out the possibility of shenanigans.) Much of the speculation already is around the guy who got shot, a 78 year-old lawyer whom Bush appointed to a Texas regulatory body in 1999 under somewhat controversial conditions, and around the family who owned the property, who are evidently six-figure givers in Texas Republican circles. With that cast of characters, and the fact that this incident wasn't publicly reported until about 24 hours after it happened, they speculate that something is being covered up.
As I said, I wouldn't put much past Cheney: he's shown bad judgment and cretinous disregard for people over his career, and his health issues and the medications he's presumably on all could factor into an accident or whatever. But the people involved--well, ask yourself this: what type of people would you expect Cheney to hang out with on weekends? Buddhists on meditative retreat? Ravers? Of course he's spending time with former/current political givers and fellow "big-time" Republicans. Given that the sheriff of the town (in the above-linked NYT piece) says there was nothing amiss, and that the guy seems to be recovering, it seems that at worst the "cover-up" is of Cheney doing something stupid or having an accident of some kind. In that sense he's probably no different than any other rich guy who's able to keep something embarassing but ultimately harmless out of the public spotlight.
(That said, imagine the reaction from certain quarters if it had been Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, or John Kerry who'd accidentally shot someone while hunting.)