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Jewish World Review Feb. 25, 2002 / 13 Adar, 5762

Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
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Consumer Reports

These are good days for veep -- EVERY dog has his day, and these are good days for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney hasn't always had an easy ride with Team Bush. Wags -- like moi -- thought it was bad form when he vetted No. 2 hopefuls as leader of the Bush running-mate search team, then picked himself. After the election, Cheney had three unenviable roles. He was the lord of the heart attack. Dems labeled him as the brains behind the throne, a label that can sap a veep's power. Cheney was also the Bush administration's energy Grinch.

There was no love lost between California and Cheney. He needled Californians about how they were happy to devour electricity, as long as it wasn't generated from power plants near their backyards. He even suggested that if the state really wanted clean energy, it should go nuclear.

Then, in the weeks following Sept. 11, his role changed: Critics carped at him for working out of undisclosed locations. This followed on the heels of criticism for Cheney's energy task force meeting behind closed doors. Those days are gone. Now, Cheney's cool with California. He's out of the bunker, pale, rested and ready. Dick Cheney, Man of Mystery. The embodiment of Cardiac Chic.

Last Tuesday, he was a hit with Jay Leno; he led "The Tonight Show'' with an "undisclosed location'' joke. On Thursday, he spoke to an enthusiastic gathering of business types at the San Jose Chamber of Commerce meeting. "I never thought I'd be the opening act for a rock band called Creed,'' he quipped. He wooed workers during a short tour of the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif. Standing with his trademark tilt of the head, wearing a red tie (not the blue tie beloved of other Bushies) and his crooked grin, he asked questions of staffer Mary Carbullido as she showed off Cosmo, the artificial-intelligence robot dog.

"It was great because he was very engaged,'' gushed a quite pregnant Carbullido. She might even consider naming her son-to-be Cheney, she said. Cheney Carbullido.

Yes, California and Cheney these days are simpatico. The latest Field Poll shows President Bush enjoying a 70 percent favorability rating in California, with Cheney rating a 61 percent thumbs up. That's 14 percent more than Al Gore (remember him?) rated in the same poll. With those numbers, Cheney could quote the GOP trifecta -- Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan and welfare critic George Gilder -- without apology.

Cheney obviously connected with Silicon Valley, hooking geek to grunt as he talked up arming soldiers with "precision instruments.'' Perhaps he even thought of himself when he marveled on how "even the boldest predictions'' of technological advances often fall short of the advancements that actually occur. After all, who would have predicted his rave-review performance in California last week?

"What is the Zen of Cheney?'' I asked spokesperson Jennifer Millerwise. "His Zen?'' she swallowed. "Let me think.'' After a minute's consideration, she answered: "calm, measured, thoughtful.'' "He's like a Zen Buddhist guru,'' political consultant Sean Walsh said after the San Jose talk. "He tends to calm crowds, and the media.''

Back in Washington, the cries for him to release the list of people who advised his energy task force will start up again. Talking heads will ask him about his ticker and if he had steak for dinner. And he'll be California dreamin', visualizing that perfect nuclear power plant on the beach.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.


02/21/02: Dirty bill for a dirty mess
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02/15/02: Dose of justice needed here
02/08/02: Sunshine all around
02/04/02: Does citizenship matter?
02/01/02: End the coverup
01/30/02: Try this for "troubling"
01/25/02: Camp X-ray or Club Med?
01/23/02: Let's stop the deluge of porn e-mail
01/21/02: No 'Little Boy Lost'
01/16/02: Son of Supercar
01/12/02: Beware the European view of the death penalty
01/09/02: Other people's children
01/07/02: It doesn't fly
01/03/02: Going from the Atlantic City Boardwalk to Berkeley
12/31/01: In America, punishment should fit the crime
12/28/01: What I'd like to see in 2002
12/24/01: Don't heckle ink monopolists
12/21/01: Mumia finds safety in numbers
12/19/01 The self-help PBS shopping network
12/17/01 Caught on tape
12/14/01 Know when to hold 'em
12/10/01 Old friends
12/06/01 I read the news today, oh boy
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11/28/01 Admissions and omissions
11/26/01 Guns and abayas
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11/14/01 Interpreting the entrails of Election 2000
11/12/01 Life and liberty
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11/01/01 Freedom snuffed out
10/29/01 Give war a chance
10/26/01 Airline bill needs liftoff
10/22/01 The Riordan Principle
10/19/01 Before America gets tired of the war on terrorism
10/17/01 Patriot games
10/15/01 I was a 'McCainiac,' and I have seen the light
10/12/01 University of Censorship's fall semester
10/11/01 Poor little rich boy, Osama
10/07/01 Don't feed Israel to the beast
10/05/01: bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster
10/04/01: Where no man has gone before
09/26/01: Who's bloodthirsty?
09/26/01: What's to understand?
09/20/01: Barbara Lee's line in the sand
09/14/01: You gotta love this country
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09/06/01: NOW's goal: equal rights for women without equal responsibility
08/30/01: What's love got to do with it?
08/24/01: A clean, well-lighted place for junkies
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07/30/01: Why it's easy being green (in Europe)
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07/23/01: Condit should not resign
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07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
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06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
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06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
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05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
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05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
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03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
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02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
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02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
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01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
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01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
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12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders 12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
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12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
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11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?

© 2000, Creators Syndicate