By LANCE GAY
Scripps Howard News Service
February 13, 2006
"You know who's doing a 'there but for the grace of God go I'? Scalia," wrote comedian Al Franken on his Web site, referring to Cheney's longtime duck-hunting friend, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
The Internet sprouted with offerings of "Dick Cheney hunts people" T-shirts and comments about calling the vice president "Deadeye Dick." There also was a version of the vice-presidential seal featuring a shotgun-wielding Elmer Fudd in hunting gear, with the inscription: "Be vewy vewy quiet, we're hunting I-wackies."
"Guns don't shoot people. The vice president shoots people," read one posting. The site Davezilla.com lampooned the difference between a hunter in a bright orange vest, and a quail.
Sarah and Jim Brady, founders of a leading gun-control group, blasted the vice president for his staunch support of guns.
"Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him," Jim Brady said in a statement. "I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog _ and I thought he was an idiot."
"I've thought Cheney was scary for a long time," added his wife Sarah, who campaigned against the vice president in the last election because of Cheney's record opposing gun-control measures when he served in Congress. "Now I know I was right to be nervous."
Animal-rights groups suggested that Cheney give up bird hunting. "We don't quite understand his obsession with shooting animals, and we'd advise him to pursue a less violent form of relaxation and get on with the important business of leading the country," said Wayne Pacelli, president of the Humane Society of the United States.
On the Internet, some commentators were quick to point out the shooting incident was the first involving a vice president since Aaron Burr, vice president to Thomas Jefferson, shot Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel in Weehawken, N.J. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, updated its article on the Burr-Hamilton duel this weekend, adding the sentence: "In 2006, Richard Cheney, while on a hunting trip in Texas, became the second vice president to shoot a person while in office."
Some political pundits forecast political fallout from the injuries sustained by 78-year-old Harry Whittington, who walked into shooting range behind Cheney during the quail hunt Saturday and was hospitalized with pellets in his face.
"I'm very thankful Whittington is doing fine," said commentator Michelle Malkin. "Unfortunately, this is very bad news for the White House _ and not just because of the inevitable late-night jokes that will inundate the airwaves over the next week. The Dems will exploit this accident to smear Cheney as incapable of being trusted, weak of mind, etc. The resignation rumors will fly again. And the biography of a man who has served this country so well and so honorably for so many years will be overshadowed by a single, ill-fated hunting mishap."
"It's not like he drove off a bridge and left a woman to drown in his car," commented Matt Margolis on Blogs for Bush.
Political commentators on Web sites opposed to the Bush-Cheney administration lost little time getting into the fray. "Guns don't hurt people," said one blogger on DailyKos, a left-of-center Web site, mocking the National Rifle Association. "Megalomaniacal insane ... vice-presidents hurt people."
Another blogger speculated that Cheney had never had to take mandatory classes in hunter safety because he managed to get five deferments, a reference to Cheney's success in avoiding the military draft during the Vietnam War.
At Political Cortex, deeper efforts to cover up the incident were discerned:
"So, what we have is an event shrouded in secrecy for almost 24 hours which, when disclosed, was accompanied by a fawning statement by a Bush apparatchik exonerating Cheney from any and all blame and/or liability. Thus, this appears to be yet another example of the Bush administration attempting to manipulate the press and perhaps hide the truth. What really happened on that ranch yesterday? Who the heck knows? What we do know is that, regardless of what actually happened, the administration spin-doctors immediately jumped in and crafted a story that put Cheney in the best possible light. And the 'traditional media' reported that story without any skepticism whatsoever."
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