Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Now he’s talking!

CHENEY/Dan Quayle played golf in Arizona. Al Gore taught journalism in New York. But Dick Cheney is breaking with the tradition that former vice presidents quietly leave Washington and the public eye when they exit the White House. Even Cheney’s ex-boss, George W. Bush, has refrained from criticizing the Obama administration, saying the new team deserves his silence. But Cheney was positively gabby on a Sunday talk show.

While many in official Washington were recovering from Saturday evening’s White House Correspondents Association dinner — where President Barack Obama got off some memorable one-liners and comedian Wanda Sykes took aim at radio talk jock Rush Limbaugh, among others — Cheney gave a lengthy interview to “Face the Nation” on CBS television. The replay of clips from that chat were still reverberating on Monday’s morning shows on CNN, NBC and ABC.

On waterboarding terror suspects, which critics say doesn’t work in getting useful information — aside from it being torture — Cheney disagreed. “Khalid Shaikh Mohammed … an evil, evil man that’s been in our custody since March of ’03 … did not cooperate fully in terms of interrogations until after waterboarding. Once we went through that process, he produced vast quantities of invaluable information about Al Qaeda.”

Any regrets about his time in the White House? “No regrets. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. I’m convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives.”

What about the detention center at Guantanamo, which Obama has said will be closed within a year? “We had to have a place, a facility, where we could capture these people and hold them until they were no longer a danger to the United States … we released hundreds already of the less threatening types. About 12 percent of them, nonetheless, went back onto the fight as terrorists. The group that’s left, the 245 or so, these are the worst of the worst.”

Report: Cheney disagreed with Bush over Libby

OBAMA/So it has come to this: Dick Cheney is said to be angry at George W. Bush over Bush’s decision not to grant a pardon to Scooter Libby over the Valerie Plame affair.

That is according to long-time Cheney watcher Thomas DeFrank of the New York Daily News. DeFrank reported that former vice president Cheney repeatedly pressed Bush to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby, arguing that Scooter deserved a full exoneration.

Former President Bush had already kept Libby out of jail by commuting his 30-month prison sentence.

Nothing lost in translation on Biden dig

WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden promised a “fully transparent” task force to help the middle class. So why is the audience laughing?

Biden is leading a task force to look at how to improve economic realities for working families. And it will have its own Web site astrongmiddleclass.gov as the Obama administration presses on with its goal to use the Internet to communicate with the public.

“This task force, I might add — which, coming out of the vice president’s office, will be a bit unique — will be fully transparent, totally transparent,” Biden said.

Facebook becomes posterboard for inaugural festivities

WASHINGTON – For those not among the throngs in the U.S. capital for the inaugural festivities for Barack Obama, many have turned to Facebook to describe how they were watching the ceremonies or their state of excitement about the new president.

And yes, it even became a spot for soon-to-be former aides to outgoing President George W. Bush to describe their future after their tenure at the White House.

One Bush staffer described being “employed for only 1hr and 28 more minutes” while another told his friends he was on his way to Andrews Air Force Base to attend a closed-door departure ceremony before Bush flies back to Texas on the 747 airplane used as Air Force One (it’s only called that when the current president is aboard).

It’s official – Obama is the next U.S. president

It’s official. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

USA/The Senate and House of Representatives just concluded a joint session in which the electoral college vote results of the Nov. 4 election were counted and certified with great fanfare.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who serves as president of the Senate, presided over the meeting and read the official results – Obama of Illinois received 365 of the 538 electoral votes for president and Sen. John McCain of Arizona received 173.  Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware received 365 electoral votes for the office of vice president while Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska received 173 votes, Cheney said. USA/

Cheney to do a little last-minute campaigning in Wyoming

UPDATED – Adds Laura Bush event

WASHINGTON – Vice President Dick Cheney will take a different approach than his boss to the presidential campaign this last weekend before election day — he will spend it at a public rally in his home state.

Cheney will attend a Get-Out-the-Vote rally in Laramie, Wyoming on Saturday, a rare public sighting on the campaign trail by Cheney or his boss, President George W. Bush. Both have attended numerous fundraisers around the country this election cycle but with their job approval ratings hovering around record lows, they have almost all been closed-door affairs.

Unlike Cheney, Bush is spending the last weekend of the 2008 campaign season secluded at the Camp David presidential retreat.

Marine One treasures for Bush

QUANTICO, Va., Oct 30 (Reuters) – Aside from the treasured memories, President George W. Bush will probably take back to Texas a souvenir or two from his years in the White House.

And as president he gets more than just T-shirts and mugs.

On Thursday, the Marines and sailors who take care of Marine One presented Bush with a little piece of the presidential helicopter to take home.

Any helicopter that carries the president is called Marine One and only a handful of senior aides get a lift in it. When Bush goes out of town, he takes the helicopter from the White House South Lawn to Andrews Air Force Base where his plane, Air Force One, is waiting.

Saving the world, one papier-mâché head at a time

rick-fitzgerald.jpg

DENVER – “Saving the world is my hobby, I guess you could say, because I don’t play golf,” said Rick Fitzgerald, wearing a striped prison costume and holding a papier-mâché Dick Cheney head.

Moments earlier he had been wearing the Cheney head outside the Democratic National Convention chanting “Cheney in chains!” and shaking his plastic shackles for an obliging New York Post photographer. A papier-mâché Condoleezza Rice head sat at his feet.

Fitzgerald, who drove in from Longmont, Colo., was joined outside the Pepsi Center on Sunday by about a hundred protesters. But Fitzgerald doesn’t like the term.

Michael Moore’s Dream Ticket: Obama-Kennedy

carolinekennedy.jpgWASHINGTON – With campaign observers in a frenzy awaiting the impending results of the 2008 vice presidential sweepstakes, filmmaker Michael Moore has stepped up with a provocative plea to an advisor to Barack Obama: “Caroline, Pull a Cheney!”

That would be Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, and the head of the group searching to find a running mate for the Democratic nominee.

“I cannot think of a more winning ticket than one that reads: “OBAMA-KENNEDY,” Moore wrote in an open letter to Kennedy posted on his Web site.

Obama’s vice president a ‘he?’

sebelius.jpgRALEIGH, North Carolina – Barack Obama won’t say yet who his running mate will be but on Tuesday he did describe the qualities he wants in a vice president.

Briefly put: “he” will be the opposite of Dick Cheney, the man who hclinton.jpgcurrently holds the office.

“My vice president will be a member of the executive branch, he won’t be one of these fourth branches of government where he thinks he’s above the law,” Obama told a crowd in North Carolina.