This is not an easy article for me to write. Few Americans are as aware as I of the extraordinary contributions Vice President Richard N. Cheney has made to this country, the personal and professional sacrifices — of himself and others — without a moment's hesitation. The long hour away from family and friends, all to make this country something he and he alone could be proud of.
When Dick — I'll always think of him as a Dick — and I last met, it was at the Cosmos Club in Washington, a place where only the elite are allowed to meet. We sat in front of a roaring fire, sipping Hennesey Pierre Richard and smoking...well, yes, Cuban cigars.
"Dick," I finally said. "How can you bear it?"
He smiled that Dick Cheney smile at me. "It's for my country. Only for my country."
I admit it, I'm man enough. I was overcome and choked up. When the waiter Heimliched the olive out of my throat, I was able to speak again.
"What are you doing, putting an olive in the world's finest cognac?" I demanded.
"Nghsr ptmnsq rwtbxvc," said the waiter.
Dick, fluent in Lithuanian, translated, "He said a thousand pardons, son of a camel's hump."
"Is that good?" I asked.
"You're not going to get anything better out of a Lithuanian," he said.
But back to our story.
In the next issue of Time Magazine (Motto: No Matter How Pathetic We Are, We're Still Better than Newsweek,) you will read an interview with our Vice President. I for one, find myself in the category of so many Americans who've gone before me, in saying, "Climb down, asshole, you're blowing the whole megillah."
Time: Mr. Vice President, if you had to take back any one thing you'd said about Iraq, what would it be?
Cheney: I expressed the sentiment some time ago that I thought we were over the hump in terms of violence. I think that was premature. I thought the elections would have created that environment. And it hasn't happened yet.