Many remember that former Vice President Dick Cheney shot his hunting companion, 78-year-old attorney Harry Whittington in the face instead of the quail he was supposed to shoot in 2006 in Texas.
But who remembers his hunting trip to Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club about 70 miles north of New York City, near Poughkeepsie, the following year? The hunting caravan included 15 sport utility vehicles and an ambulance and cost $32,000 for local law enforcement officials who guarded the Vice President's hotel, protected his motorcade and diverted school buses. Hey--the Veep wants to hunt!
This was not Cheney's first visit to the 4,000-acre club which costs $150,000 a year to join and features a male-only clubhouse. But the male-only quarters were only the beginning of the controversy. A photographer from the New York Daily News managed to get on the premises and snapped a photo of a Confederate flag displayed in a Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club garage!
Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said neither Cheney or his staff saw the flag. But civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton demanded that Cheney "leave immediately, denounce the club and apologize for going to a club that represents lynching, hate and murder to black people." There is no record of an apology or Cheney leaving the Confederate flag displaying club early.
Three years earlier, Cheney's hunting also made the news. Even before John Kerry's concession speech in 2004, the Veep commandeered Air Force Two to Pierre, SD--thank you taxpayers--where a motorcade sped him to a Gettysburg area hunting lodge for a victory hunt.
Unfortunately, Cheney's defibrillator failed him after shooting one too many pheasants and he was rushed to George Washington Medical Center in Washington DC where comedians joked he had a reserved parking space. He was hospitalized for shortness of breath. "Sorry we ruined your Saturday," the Veep's wife Lynne Cheney told reporters gathered at the hospital. Cheney was going to be fine and he got plenty of shooting in, she said.
Even without questions about racism, sexism and use of taxpayer funds, Cheney's love of blood sports raises ethical questions. Outdoor columnists denounce the put-and-take "hunting" Cheney fancies as gratuitous killing of tame birds that requires no skill and gives animals no chance. "Watching pen-raised pheasants lumber into the air is not my favorite form of upland game hunting," wrote the Peoria Journal Star's Jeff Lampe. "Give me wild roosters any day over their fat, dumb domesticated cousins."
"If they're off in some dumb spot, like the middle of a cut milo strip, hopping around and wondering at the fuss, you can figure they arrived in a basket," wrote the late John Husar, the Chicago Tribune's outdoor reporter.