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Cheney Utters 'F - Word' in Senate - Aides [
Cheney Dismisses Critic With Obscenity:
Clash With Leahy About Halliburton
By Helen Dewar and Dana Milbank
Friday 25 June 2004
A brief argument between Vice President Cheney and a senior Democratic senator led Cheney to utter a big-time obscenity on the Senate floor this week.
On Tuesday, Cheney, serving in his role as president of the Senate, appeared in the chamber for a photo session. A chance meeting with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, became an argument about Cheney's ties to Halliburton Co., an international energy services corporation, and President Bush's judicial nominees. The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice.
"Fuck yourself," said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency.
Leahy's spokesman, David Carle, yesterday confirmed the brief but fierce exchange. "The vice president seemed to be taking personally the criticism that Senator Leahy and others have leveled against Halliburton's sole-source contracts in Iraq," Carle said.
As it happens, the exchange occurred on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the "Defense of Decency Act" by 99 to 1.
Cheney's office did not deny that the phrase was uttered. His spokesman, Kevin S. Kellems, would say only that this language is not typical of the vice presidential vocabulary. "Reserving the right to revise and extend my remarks, that doesn't sound like language the vice president would use," Kellems said, "but there was a frank exchange of views."
Gleeful Democrats pointed out that the White House has not always been so forgiving of obscenity. In December, Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry was quoted using the same word in describing Bush's Iraq policy as botched. The president's chief of staff reacted with indignation.
"That's beneath John Kerry," Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. said. "I'm very disappointed that he would use that kind of language. I'm hoping that he's apologizing at least to himself, because that's not the John Kerry that I know."
This was not the first foray into French by Cheney and his boss. During the 2000 campaign, Bush pointed out a New York Times reporter to Cheney and said, without knowing the microphone was picking it up, "major-league [expletive]." Cheney's response - "Big Time" - has become his official presidential nickname.
Then there was that famous Talk magazine interview of Bush by Tucker Carlson in 1999, in which the future president repeatedly used the F-word.
Tuesday's exchange began when Leahy crossed the aisle at the photo session and joked to Cheney about being on the Republican side, according to Carle. Then Cheney, according to Carle, "lashed into" Leahy for remarks he made Monday criticizing Iraq contracts won without competitive bidding by Halliburton, Cheney's former employer.
Leahy, Carle said, retorted that Democrats "have not appreciated White House collusion in smears" that Democrats were anti-Catholic for blocking judicial nominees such as William H. Pryor Jr. Democrats demanded that Bush disavow the allegations by conservative groups, but the White House did not.
The Democratic National Committee has declared this to be "Halliburton Week" to portray administration ties to the controversial company. "Sounds like it's making somebody a little testy," Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton said.
Republicans did their best to defend the vice president. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), while pointing out that he was unaware of the incident, described Cheney as "very honest" and said: "I don't blame anyone for standing up for his integrity."
There is no rule against obscene language by a vice president on the Senate floor. The senators were present for a group picture and not in session, so Rule 19 of the Senate rules - which prohibits vulgar statements "unbecoming a senator" - does not apply, according to a Senate official. Even if the Senate were in session, the vice president, though constitutionally the president of the Senate, is an executive branch official and therefore free to use whatever language he likes.
Cheney Utters 'F - Word' in Senate - Aides
Thursday 24 June 2004
Washington - Vice President Dick Cheney blurted out the "F word" at Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont during a heated exchange on the Senate floor, congressional aides said on Thursday.
The incident occurred on Tuesday in a terse discussion between the two that touched on politics, religion and money, with Cheney finally telling Leahy to "f - - off" or "go f - - yourself," the aides said.
"I think he was just having a bad day," Leahy was quoted as saying on CNN, which first reported the incident. "I was kind of shocked to hear that kind of language on the floor."
"That doesn't sound like language the vice president would use but there was a frank exchange of views," said Cheney spokesman Kevin Kellems.
According to congressional aides, Leahy said hello to Cheney following the taking of the Senate group photo on the floor of the chamber.
Cheney, who is president of the Senate, then ripped into Leahy for the Democratic senator's criticism this week of alleged war profiteering in Iraq by Halliburton, the oil services company that Cheney once ran.
Leahy and other Democrats have called for congressional hearings into whether the vice president helped the firm win lucrative contracts in Iraq after the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein.
During their exchange, Leahy noted that Republicans had accused Democrats of being anti-Catholic because they are opposed to some of President Bush's anti-abortion judges, the aides said.
That's when Cheney unloaded with the "F-bomb," aides said.
According to Senate rules, profanity is not permitted in the chamber. But when the exchange occurred between Leahy and Cheney, the Senate was not in session so there was technically no foul.