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Wednesday, 22 February 2006 00:00

The guns of winter

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There was a blast from Vice President Dick Cheney’s 28-gauge shotgun — a gun, by the way, that one Web site touts as “...just right for petite shooters” — and lawyer Harry Whittington was down.


According to high-level sources, the NSA picked up a cell phone call to the president at that same time.

Voice: I got one!

President; One what?

Voice: A wawyer.

President: I told you Dick it was tewworist season!

Voice: No, you said wawyer season.

President: Terrowist season!

Voice: Wawyer season!

Then there was silence. After a quick huddle the Cheney team decided the incident was an accident. Knowing that the nation’s “second-in-hunting” and NRA darling would be skewered if found at fault, they decided to blame Whittington for being shot.

Katharine Armstrong, owner of the family farm (the 50,000-acre Armstrong ranch) where his huntingness was hunting, noted that Whittington, who had left the group to retrieve a quail, didn’t announce himself when he returned. According to sources, it is proper protocol for hunters to keep voice contact at all times. If Whittington had been yelling at the top of his lungs: “HEY DICK, IT’S ME HARRY! I’M JUST RETURNING FROM RIGHT OVER THERE WHERE I WENT TO RETRIEVE A QUAIL. I’M THE BIPED WEARING THE BRIGHT ORANGE. THE QUAIL ARE THE LITTLE BROWN JOBS THAT FLY,” he would, ostensibly, not have been shot.

The NRA corroborated the accident scenario: “The vice president is an experienced hunter. If he were intentionally going after lawyers, he would have used a larger bore. Everyone knows that lawyers are too thick-skinned for a 28-gauge.”

But there is something fishy about this quail hunt. Anyone who follows Cheney’s career knows that hunting trips are an integral part of his negotiating skills. He was appointed CEO at Halliburton (whose official motto is “We’ll rebuild Iraq for twice the price”) after a quail hunt with the board. As CEO he took Dresser executive William E. Bradford on a quail hunt. The result: Halliburton acquired Dresser through a sweetheart deal that bypassed those troubling due diligence rituals.

After being elected vice president, Cheney found time to take Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia on a duck hunt. It was hard for Scalia to fit it in because it unfortunately came at the same time the Court was hearing a case regarding Cheney’s energy task force. Scalia bagged some ducks and the Court found in Cheney’s favor.

See the trend here? Cheney wants something. Cheney takes someone hunting. Cheney gets what he wants, and his hunting partner is unscathed.

So what went sour in south Texas?

The plot thickens when you take into account the fact that millionaire lawyer Whittington was a huge GOP contributor. A face full of birdshot doesn’t seem like an appropriate “thank you,” even for this administration.

But it doesn’t take a bird dog to point out that D.C. dignitaries were elated over a June 2005 Supreme Court ruling which allowed the District to seize private property through eminent domain. This comes at the same time Whittington is battling the city of Austin, which is trying to condemn a block of downtown Austin which Whittington owns in order to build a parking garage – hmmmm?

For the record, Cheney did go on the “fair and balanced” Fox and the Hound network and say he was sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again.

However, maintenance staff cleaning up after the interview found a crumpled piece of yellow legal pad – on it was scrawled, “...note to self, schedule a quail hunt with that f-ing Senator Leahy.”

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