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Business as usual at the Bush White House

By Doug Thompson
February 14, 2006

They fired to the left,
They fired to the right,
They fired all around;

One of them nicked a cricket,
Damn near brought him down.

They continued firing
and finally, to their suprise.
One of them got the gameskeeper,
Right between the eyes.

These lyrics from the song, Three Jovial Huntsmen, came to mind when reading about the Vice President gunning down a lawyer and fellow hunter while quail hunting in Texas Saturday.

At first I laughed. Then, as I watched the story unfold, the laughing stopped. With Vice President Dick Cheney’s bungled attempt to hunt quail without shooting another hunter, the White House once again proved it cannot even report on an accident without attempting to avoid blame.

Presidential spokesliar Scott McClellan, under fire from reporters over — among other things — an 18-hour delay in releasing the story to the press, said Monday the victim, 74-year-old Austin attorney Harold Whittington, was at fault for not “announcing” his return to the hunting party. The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife disagreed, saying Cheney showed a lack of hunter’s judgment and also cited the Veep for not having a valid hunting stamp.

Let’s see. The Vice President of the United States, hunting without a proper license and in a red-haze firing frenzy, shoots someone and it’s the victim’s fault because he happened to be in the line of fire? I suppose that if the Bush White House can plunge the nation into a war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist and a non-existent threat from Iraq and then use those lies to justify the killing of more than 2,000 American soldiers and countless thousands of Iraqi civilians, then blaming a hunting accident on the guy that got shot is second nature.

But the inept handling of details on Cheney’s shoot-em-up is just another example of how the Bush administration always thinks first of covering its own ass and keeping details secret from the American public.

McClellan says the decision on notifying the press was left to Cheney’s office. But Cheney’s office claims it was left to the owners of the property. Guess they forgot the first rule of media management: Get your stories straight.

The 18-hour delay probably occurred because the White House spin machine needed to talk to everyone involved and make sure that no one told conflicting stories about what happened out on that Texas ranch on Saturday. Second rule of media management: Control the story.

I’ve been a hunter for more than 40 years and always practice the first rule of safe hunting: Look before you shoot. It’s a simple rule that helps avoid shooting the wrong thing. Maybe that’s why I’ve never managed to shoot anyone by accident in four decades of hunting.

Cheney’s blunder may well have been a simple hunting accident, but when you wait 18 hours before telling anyone and then try to shift blame to the victim, questions naturally arise.

It also doesn’t help that the Bush White House, the most secretive in modern times, clamps down on anyone who dares talk to the press and classifying even the most mundane of information under the cloak of “national security.”

If the White House cannot come clean about a hunting accident, how can we expect them to be honest about the war in Iraq, the warrantless spying on Americans by the National Security Agency or the many other failures of the Bush Administration?

The sad fact is we can’t. George W. Bush, the minions that follow him and his party that controls Congress, have proven time and again they are corrupt, dishonest and out of control.