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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

VP Follies

Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012, at 6:35 PM

Alexander Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States (1789-1795), in the cabinet of George Washington. Politically, he was a Federalist. His portrait appears on the 10-dollar bill.

Aaron Burr was a U.S. Senator from New York (1791-1797) and Vice President of the United States (1801-1805) under Thomas Jefferson. Politically, he was a Republican. His portrait appears mostly in museums.

In 1789, Burr defeated Phillip Schuyler, Hamilton's father-in-law, for the Senate seat from New York. Thus began the feud between Hamilton and Burr, which culminated five years later when Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. It was said at the time that Burr had no principles and Hamilton had too many.

On July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey, Burr and Hamilton stepped off ten paces, turned and fired their .56 caliber dueling pistols. Hamilton fell to the ground and died the next day. Burr was unscathed.

The next time a Vice President of the United States shot another human being while in office occurred on February 11, 2006, when Dick Cheney went hunting with some of his wealthy Republican pals.

Cheney and his entourage were bird hunting on a private ranch in south Texas when the Vice President mistook a fellow hunter, Harry Whittington, for a quail and shot him. Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun and the pellets struck Whittington, about 30 yards away, in the face, neck and upper chest.

Whittington, 78, was quickly attended to by a team of medical specialists who always travel with the Vice President and later transported to a hospital in Corpus Christi where he was treated for several days, then released. He still has about six pellets of birdshot in his system, including one embedded in his heart muscle.

Cheney is an avid bird hunter. He frequently hunts for pheasant in South Dakota and ducks in Arkansas. To mistake a Texas lawyer wearing an orange vest for a quail seems out of character for the Vice President. If anything, Whittington looks more like a whooping crane than a quail, and shooting whooping cranes is illegal.

According to the eye-witness account of Katherine Armstrong (owner of the 50,000 acre ranch), Cheney was swinging to his right and looking into the sun. Nevertheless, he made a snap decision and pulled the trigger. In hunting, this is called carelessness. In politics, it's known as faulty intelligence.

To further complicate matters, Cheney and Whittington were hunting illegally. While both of them had the proper license to be hunting in Texas, neither of them had the upland game bird stamp required for quail hunting.

In 1804, dueling was illegal in New Jersey, but Hamilton and Burr did it anyway. In America, the law applies equally to everyone. But sometimes those who make the law are more equal than those who must obey the law.

The following Monday, February 13, the Vice President's press office announced that Cheney sent a 7-dollar check to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to cover the cost of the license.

All's well that ends well.

It's amazing how the USA can spend countless months and zillions of dollars electing two main candidates to be our next President, then each of two candidates gets to choose their successor on their own. It doesn't exactly seem very democratic.

Dan Quayle was Vice President of the United States under the original George H W. Bush, in 1988-1992.

During that period, I lived in the desert a few miles outside of Wickenburg, Arizona, which was basically a fork in the road, about 50 miles northwest of Phoenix, with one stoplight to control traffic coming up from Phoenix and splitting off to California or Las Vegas.

Wickenburg was also the unofficial headquarters of the Quayle family, originally from Indiana. Dan Quayle's father owned a luxury home on the private golf course. His older brother owned and edited the local newspaper, The Wickenburg Sun, and his younger brother lived somewhere in the outlying hills trying to become a writer.

As Vice President, Dan Quayle and his family would often visit Wickenburg. Their arrival was always apparent because the secret service would actually shut off the electricity in the entire community thereby disabling the only stoplight in town in order to allow the Vice President and his caravan to whisk through the intersection with ease. This was most irritating to many of the locals, especially the ones using computers (such as myself) that would crash when the electricity suddenly went off without warning.

Dan Quayle loved to relax from his chores as Vice President and shoot a couple of rounds of golf. He was a good golfer but as a public figure his blunders were legendary.

He once visited a grade school during a spelling bee. On camera, he confronted a small boy who had correctly spelled the word "potato," insisting the lad put an "e" on the end of the word.

When discussing the departure of a member of Bush's cabinet, Quayle remarked, "This isn't a man who is leaving with his head between his legs."

As a defender of family values, he lavished the Ozzie Osborne family, a bunch of crazed wombats, with praise as a role model family, proving that he's either a comic genius or a blithering idiot.

The following blithering-idiot statements were also made by Dan Quayle during his Vice Presidency.

1) "It isn't pollution that is hurting the environment, it's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."

2) "It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago."

3) "Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it."

4) "We have a firm commitment to NATO. We are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."

5) "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."

6) "I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix."

7) "If you give a person a fish, they'll fish for a day. But if you train a person to fish, they'll fish for a lifetime."

8) "We are not ready for an unforeseen event that may or may not occur."

9) "Most women do not want to be liberated from their essential natures as women."

10) "I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people."

11) "What a waste to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."

12) "It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."

Dan Quayle was next in line to assume the position of President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the most powerful nation on Earth. It's always comforting to know our country is in such competent hands.

George Bush, Sr. and Dan Quayle were defeated for reelection in 1992.

Go figure.

Perhaps when the human race enters the solar system we will have the sort of leadership we deserve.

Then again, perhaps we always get what we deserve.

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Quote for the Day -- "A man I'm proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next President of the United States -- Barack America!" Joe Biden

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Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the ghost of Jasper Lamar Crabb.

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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.
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