Fri, Nov 02, 2007 - Page 7 News List

VP Cheney embraces `the dark side'

AP , WASHINGTON

In this photograph provided by the White House, US Vice President Dick Cheney's Labrador retrievers Jackson, left, and Dave sit for a photograph at the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington on Tuesday. Jackson is dressed as Darth Vader; Dave is dressed as Superman.

PHOTO: AP

The joke is on US Vice President Dick Cheney. Apparently, around the White House, they have no problem with that.

As he launched into a healthcare speech on Wednesday, US President George W. Bush warmed up his audience with a nod to Halloween costumes at Cheney's expense.

"This morning I was with the vice president," Bush told a gathering of grocery manufacturers. "I was asking him what costume he was planning. He said, `Well, I'm already wearing it.' Then he mumbled something about the dark side of the force."

Ah yes, that old Darth Vader line. Used to be that only Cheney's critics called him that, not his boss. Or his wife. Or Cheney himself.

"Most of you knew me long before anyone called me Darth Vader," Cheney said at the Washington Institute last week. "I've been asked if that nickname bothers me and the answer is, `no.' After all, Darth Vader is one of the nicer things I've been called recently."

Darth Vader is the heavy-breathing villain of the Star Wars movies -- a reference to Cheney's terse manner and sometimes gloomy view of world affairs.

Cheney's wife, Lynne, went even further in her appearance on The Daily Show last month. She showed up with a Darth Vader doll.

"It's a special present for you," she told the show's host, Jon Stewart, who has been known to skewer the vice president. "It's an old family heirloom."

This was the third time in a month the White House had embraced the label. So what is this? Some kind of mind trick?

Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, said Cheney has always had a good sense of humor.

Asked why Cheney seems fine with the Darth Vader tag, McBride said: "If it brings some levity to politics, he's fine being the target."

Clearly.

At the vice president's home at the Naval Observatory, his staff put both of the Cheneys' dogs in Halloween costumes on Wednesday. The yellow lab got to be Superman. The black lab? Darth Vader.

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