Cheney Accident Triggers Jokes on Late-Night TV
By BROOKS BARNES
For TV comics, it's a target so big and so attractive that few will resist taking their shot.
Vice President Dick Cheney was already the butt of jokes on the late-night TV circuit for his brooding public persona, ardent support for the war in Iraq and his powerful role in the Bush White House. Even his heart condition was the constant object of monologue material. But with news that the vice president accidentally shot and injured a friend while hunting on a Texas ranch over the weekend, Mr. Cheney is destined to become a late-night legend.
Writers for programs from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central to "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on NBC were overflowing with jokes related to the shooting on Monday. Rarely has a political figure as prominent as Mr. Cheney served himself up on a such a platter. Several writers likened the mishap to Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky in terms of comic fertility.
The timing couldn't have been worse, however, for NBC: Due to Olympics coverage, a new episode of "Saturday Night Live" won't air until March 4.
Below, a sampling of jokes from the monologues from Monday episodes of various late-night programs.
"The Late Show With David Letterman" (CBS)
"Good news ladies and gentleman, we have finally located weapons of mass destruction … It's Dick Cheney."
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"We can't get Bin Laden, but we nailed a 78-year-old attorney."
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"Honestly, I don't know what all of the fuss is about. What's more American than shooting your hunting buddy in the ass?"
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"The guy who got gunned down is a Republican lawyer and a big Republican donor and fortunately the buck shot was deflected by wads of laundered cash. So he's fine. He took a little in the wallet."
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From "Cheney's Excuses," Monday night's Top 10 list: "I thought the guy was trying to go gay cowboy on me."
"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (Comedy Central)
A partial transcript:
Jon Stewart: "Yes, as you've just heard, a near-tragedy over the weekend in south Texas. Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a man during a quail hunt at a political supporter's ranch. Making 78-year-old Harry Whittington the first person shot by a sitting VP since Alexander Hamilton.
"Hamilton, of course, shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird.
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The other player in the drama? Ranch owner and eyewitness Katharine Armstrong.
Katharine Armstrong: "We were shooting a covey of quail. The vice president and two others got out of the car to walk up the covey."
Jon Stewart: "What kind of hunting story begins with getting out of your car? As I sighted the great beast before us, my shaking hands could barely engage the parking brake. Slowly, I turned off the A/C and silenced my sub-woofers…"
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Katharine Armstrong: "A bird flushed. The vice president took aim at the bird and shot and unfortunately, Mr. Whittington was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty well."
Jon Stewart: "Peppered. There you have it. Harry Whittington, seasoned to within an inch of his life.
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Jon Stewart: "I'm joined now by our own vice-presidential firearms mishap analyst, Rob Corddry. Rob, obviously a very unfortunate situation. How is the vice president handling it?
Rob Corddry: "Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush.
"And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington's face."
Jon Stewart: "But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?"
Rob Corddry: "Jon, in a post-9-11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak."
Jon Stewart: "That's horrible."
Rob Corddry: "Look, the mere fact that we're even talking about how the vice president drives up with his rich friends in cars to shoot farm-raised wingless quail-tards is letting the quail know 'how' we're hunting them. I'm sure right now those birds are laughing at us in that little 'covey' of theirs.
Jon Stewart: "I'm not sure birds can laugh, Rob."
Rob Corddry: "Well, whatever it is they do … coo .. they're cooing at us right now, Jon, because here we are talking openly about our plans to hunt them. Jig is up. Quails one, America zero.
Jon Stewart: "Okay, well, on a purely human level, is the vice president at least sorry?"
Rob Corddry: "Jon, what difference does it make? The bullets are already in this man's face. Let's move forward across party lines as a people … to get him some sort of mask."
"Jimmy Kimmel Live" (ABC)
Among the jokes in consideration for Monday's telecast:
"It's part of the president's new Social Security plan. Once you hit 78, kablamo."
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"Luckily, the guy he shot was wearing the body armor that never got shipped to the troops."
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"You know what they say, if Dick Cheney comes out of his hole and shoots an old man in the face, 6 more weeks of winter."
"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC)
"Although it is beautiful here in California, the weather back East has been atrocious. There was so much snow in Washington, D.C. Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fat guy thinking it was a polar bear."
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"When people found out he shot a lawyer his popularity is now at 92%"
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"After he shot the guy, he screamed, 'Anyone else want to call domestic wire tapping illegal?' "
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"Something I just found out today about the incident. Do you know that Dick Cheney tortured the guy for a half hour before he shot him?"
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"Cheney's defense is that he was aiming at a quail when he shot the guy. Which means that Cheney now has the worst aim of anyone in the White House since Bill Clinton."
Write to Brooks Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org
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