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Failed Shots

Monday, Feb. 13, 2006 12:01 AM

Vice President Dick Cheney had a little mishap while hunting quail with Harry Whittington, a prominent Austin lawyer.

Dick shot him.

In the face.

With a shotgun.

An eyewitness related how Whittington had downed a quail and went to retrieve it. Meanwhile, Cheney and a third hunter were pursuing a second covey of birds; Whittington apparently came up from behind the Vice President and didn't signal them. So, you know, the birds flew off to the side, the Vice President turned and fired.


Whittington is in stable condition. Though he was struck by pellets in the cheek, neck, and chest, the hunters were using shells with fewer pellets and a smaller shot pattern.

Being a gun owner myself (though I am not a hunter), I am wondering why, exactly, Cheney and the other hunter did not immediately suspend any action once Whittington went to retrieve his downed bird. This is elementary range safety, whether you're working with firearms or archery; you don't have your weapon drawn if someone is downrange attending to targets or recovery.

Secondly, if the shell used had such a small spread, the quail must have been flying fairly low for Cheney to be able to catch Whittington as he did at 30 yards off.

Cheney's people are saying that the Vice President was not, "... careless or incautious or violate any of the [rules]. He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do."

But it appears that he didn't do everything he was supposed to, either.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Senator Thomas Daschle (D-S. Dakota) fumbled a critical play.

They said the domestic surveillance program being run by the NSA is necessary.

Oh, but, they're questioning the President's legal authority to do so.

The problem is, what's getting reported? That two key Democrats approve of the program.

The necessity of the program is secondary to the questions about its legality.

A gold boot to the head for Michelle Kwan. After much drama and pleading, she was granted a spot on the U.S. Olympic skating team, displacing other, qualified skaters.

Now, after a less-than-satisfactory practice, Kwan has dropped out.

She will be replaced by Emily Hughes.

Some columnists have noted Kwan's long-term contribution to the sport, her maturity and grace.

Except Kwan blew it when she traded on her reputation to earn a spot on the team. Gone was the maturity and grace that stands as Kwan's legacy, and a moment of seeming selfishness became the end note for this last showing.

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