In honor of the US elections on Tuesday (if you live in Ohio, vote “NO” on Two!!!), I’m going to feature a former US Vice President – Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney.
Cheney, obviously, is famous for being George W. Bush’s Vice President. Remember back in the day, before September 11th, when we used to joke that Cheney was really president because Bush was on vacation so much? Yeah, I miss those days. Back when the millennium was new and fresh, full of hope for tomorrow, and the Dub-ya looked like he’d become another Eisenhower, only famous for chillin’ at his ranch in Texas rather than for playing golf. Back when you could walk to an airport gate without a boarding pass, and instead of the TSA you had rent-a-cops manning (and womanning) the metal detectors. Those were the days. [Note: I don’t actually want to go back to those days, as I was in high school then, and once is enough. However, imagine (it’s easy if you try) how awesomely different things might be if September 2001 had been as boring as every other September and Bush had continued to spend 90% of his presidency on vacation. I’m sure Dub-ya and America would have both enjoyed his term of office that much more.]
Moving on from that nostalgia-laced drivel (man, I was only one step away from walking uphill both ways to school in the snow), I consider Dick Cheney famous and worthy of note for three reasons.
1) Practically being president despite having had so many heart attacks he was no longer actually alive (see Saturday Night Live, I believe, for more on this)
2) Shooting his buddy in 2006 when the two were quail hunting
3) Being the Penguin (thank you, Jon Stewart)
To quote: “Politics is wonderful. I can use all my lowest, slurpiest tricks, but now they’re legal. Oh! I should have been a politician years ago.”
That quote was actually said by the Penguin (aka Burgess Meredith) in the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman episode “Hizzoner the Penguin.” However, I think it applies equally well to the Chenester. Wah! Wah! Wah!
To give you a little information about the real (and therefore less interesting) Cheney, we turn to Wikipedia. I’m going to focus only on what I found interesting, which means there will be pretty much no discussion of politics.
Cheney was born in Nebraska, but his family moved to Wyoming before he was in high school. When the time came for college, Cheney initially went to Yale, but flunked out twice (how do you flunk out of the same university twice? Do they let you back in after kicking you out the first time?) When Cheney went to Yale the school was still all-boys, as Yale didn’t go co-ed until 1969!
Anyway, the Penguin got his shit together and pursued studies at the University of Wyoming, eventually receiving both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 1964, he married his wife Lynne, his high-school sweetheart. The two both went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to pursue doctoral studies – Cheney in political science and Lynne in English (nineteenth-century Brit Lit). Cheney did not finish, but Lynne did. In fact, a professor I had as an undergraduate was also a PhD student at Wisconsin-Madison when Lynne Cheney was there. My professor said that Lynne was a few years ahead of her and really helped her out (mentoring her, if you will). However, Lynne never got a job in academia and has done other things.
Apparently, before becoming a quail-hunting supervillain, Cheney was arrested for drunk driving in both 1962 and 1963. After that, he sobered up and went on to wreak other forms of havoc. One form of havoc he did not wreak, though, was fighting in Vietnam. From my glimpse at Wikipedia, it seems some people have a problem with Cheney getting five draft deferments. I have no problem with this, though. The man obviously needed to save his shooting prowess for his golden years when he would shower his buddies with birdshot.
Cheney shares a common female ancestor with both Harry S. (“I don’t give ‘em hell, I just tell ‘em the truth and they think it’s hell!”) Truman and Barack (ba-rock the vote) Hussein Obama. I had heard rumors that Cheney and Obama were distantly related, but, for me, the real message in this story is “holy crap! Obama’s related to Truman!”
Apparently, Cheney has also been likened to Darth Vader (how did I miss that?!). The man has even embraced the role for which I must give him props. Way to roll with the punches. Although, to be honest, if people publicly compared me to Darth Vader I wouldn’t know whether to be angry (they think I’m evil) or pleased (they think I’m such a badass). My guess is Cheney, showing a modicum of humor (so rare in politicians), has decided to jump on the “I’m a BAMF” bandwagon. Either that or he’s wishing he had a sweet Vader-suit to help keep him alive. (If you needed a suit like that for health reasons, do you think you could get the doctors to include James Earl Jones’ voice?)
One final note: Cheney finally came out (of the closet) and spoke of his support for same-sex marriage. Huzzah! Although, really, the man ought to – his younger daughter Mary is a lesbian in a committed relationship.
SNL? Check. Shouts out from Jon Stewart? Check. Likened to a Batman villain? Check. Share given names with two prominent Batman heroes? Check (that would be Bruce “I’m the goddamned Batman” Wayne and his youthful ward Dick - Robin/Nightwing - Grayson). Likened to the greatest Star Wars villain of all time? Check. And embraced it. Double check. Now that you’re no longer helping run the country, Richard Bruce Cheney, you can keep on keeping on.