And today, there are more variations of the sentence "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die" floating around the Internet than there has been during any Administration in the history of the United States, to include the presidencies of Washington, Lincoln, Wilson or Roosevelt.
It's relatively certain that the shooting was an accident, since rich white guys are the group normally referred to by the Administration as "our base."
Katharine Armstrong, the ranch's owner, saw what happened Saturday and told reporters yesterday that Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun, which shoots fewer pellets and has a smaller shot pattern than a 12-gauge shotgun, making it harder to hit the target. Whittington was about 30 yards away when he was hit in the cheek, neck and chest, she said...Yes, true to their policy of never informing anyone about anything, the White House wasn’t going to break this story. Katherine Armstrong got nervous about that whole "criminal charges" thing, and contacted the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (free registration required).
It was Armstrong's decision to alert the news media. Cheney's office made no public announcement, deciding to defer to Armstrong because the incident had taken place on her property. Armstrong called the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, and when a reporter from the paper called the White House, the vice president's office confirmed the account.
According to her account, the Vice President was about 30 yards away from Whittington, and both were wearing orange vests. The Vice President was said to have a valid hunting license, but a spokesman for the Texas Game & Fish Commission stated that lawyer season wasn't due to start for another three weeks.
First of all, one of the primary rules of using a firearm of any kind is to know your backstop: if you're going to shoot in any direction, you damned well better know what is past the thing you're aiming at, because bullets don't just fly up to the target and then quit moving – they keep going for miles, sometimes.
Secondly, how can the White House not think that this was important enough to pass along to the press? When was the last time that a sitting vice president actively shot another person? I'm thinking that we need to go back to Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr for that. Maybe, just maybe, if you dig a little, you'll find some historical significance in this.
But in actual fact, the rumor is that Cheney was heard stating that Mr. Whittington was known to have reconstituted his nuclear weapons program, and the people of Corpus Christi would greet him with open arms as a liberator.