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Shot in the face, but who’s to blame?

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Tight-lipped Vice President Dick ‘Buckshot LaFonque’ Cheney has made several questionable moves since the Bush administration took office back in 2001. He opined that deficits don’t matter. He dressed like an Eskimo during a solemn commemoration of the survivors of Auschwitz. He recommended that a US senator commit an impossible act of masturbation on the Senate floor.

And now he’s gone and shot some poor bastard in the face. A lawyer, no less.

We don’t have to fully describe what would happen if anybody but the vice president of the United States unloaded a charge of buckshot into a Texas lawyer. Suffice it to say that there would certainly be civil, if not criminal, action and we might even expect the man to shoot back.

But it looks like the man George Bush calls ‘“Big Time’” is going to walk away from this one.

On Friday the lawyer, 78-year-old Harry Whittington, the right side of his face jaundiced and bruised by the trauma, actually apologized for all that Cheney and his family have ‘“had to go through.’”

Fortunately, Cheney famously travels with a cadre of doctors, who saw to the man’s medical needs immediately. But Cheney, to be sure, also travels with a full platoon of lawyers who were able to see to the vice president’s immediate and pressing legal needs. Except for the one he shot, of course.

To be fair, on the Fox News interview with Brit Hume, Cheney, who has never been prone to televised displays of emotion, actually seemed remorseful and sad when he said, ‘“I’m the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry’…. The image of him falling is something I’ll never ever be able to get out of my mind.’”

For a moment we actually felt bad for the guy.

It must be a terrible thing to shoot a friend in the face and induce a minor heart attack, and we can believe that Cheney is wracked with guilt over it.

But then there is the troubling matter of the time lapse between the shooting and its reportage ‘— about 14 hours. And we question the manner in which the story was made available to the public.

Cheney took responsibility for making the call to give the story to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (circulation 66,000 daily) and for the delay in reporting the incident. But he never sufficiently answered why he waited so long ‘— he didn’t seem so concerned with ‘“accuracy’” when he fired the gun ‘— or why he chose to give the story to a relatively small daily instead of his own press corps.

These lingering questions must be satisfactorily answered if we are to let Big Time off the hook for this one. And if we keep asking them, we believe it will only be a matter of time before the vice president reverts to form and offers us the same suggestion he did to that lawmaker on the Senate floor.

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