Let's all gather 'round the world's virtual water cooler now and talk about Dick Cheney.
Now that 78-year-old, shot-in-the-face, tough-old-bird Texas lawyer Harry Whittington is out of the hospital and on his way to recovery -- we at Web Watch hope -- it seems like it's okay to go back to looking for humor in this whole thing.
There was no Internet the last time a sitting vice president shot someone -- in 1804, when a reprobate Aaron Burr delivered mortal wounds to a possibly despondent Alexander Hamilton during a pistol duel in Weehawken, N.J.
Our poor forefathers had no blogs or message boards for their wit and commentary. So they had to write thoughtful treatises using complete sentences and correct spelling. But thankfully, we don't! We have an Internet. And the events of last week were tailor-made for the thing.
As an easily searchable compiler of content about news events -- much of it posted at lightspeed -- the Web can't be beaten. Let's check out some of the offerings. (As always with this column, it's probably best to go to its online version at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ to click on the links below, instead of typing them in):
· http://cagle.msnbc.com/news/CheneyShoots/main.asp will take you to the Cheney category on Daryl Cagle's editorial cartoon site on MSNBC.com, which compiles cartoons from artists around the nation. As you might imagine, many sound the same theme -- Cheney shooting the Statue of Liberty or U.S. Constitution, Cheney claiming false intelligence and so on. Our favorite, from the Hartford Courant's Bob Englehart, has four trophy heads above Cheney's mantel -- labeled Plame, Wilson, Whittington and Libby -- and Cheney saying, "With a friend like me . . ." You can also see Cheney cartoons on The Washington Post Co.-owned Slate at http://cartoonbox.slate.com/index/ .
· http://dickcheneyquailhunt.cf.huffingtonpost.com/ http:/// is a game that satisfies the har-de-har, one-joke category of this particular imbroglio.
· Some of the inevitable and quick-turnaround merchandise can be found at http://www.cafepress.com/buy/politics . Our favorite is the "Duck It's Dick!" refrigerator magnet, sure to be a staple of the political paraphernalia enthusiast's collection in 2056.
· http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ , Arianna Huffington's aggregator of news and celebrity blogs, has some fun entries. Steve Martin offers: "Vice President Dick Cheney, while hunting wild geese in the Rose Garden, accidentally shot President Bush twice, once in the heart and once in the head. 'I didn't really shoot the President twice,' said Cheney. 'The second time I shot him, I was president. It wasn't until my third shot, where I accidentally shot my own foot, that I had shot the president twice.' "
· Of course, the Cheney shooting accident was probably the happiest event to happen to late-night talk-show joke writers since O.J. Our favorite was David Letterman's Top 10 Dick Cheney Excuses: "No 3: Excuse? I hit him didn't I?" Many of the other late-night offerings can be found at http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/cheneyshooting/a/cheneyshooting.htm.
· Finally, just to see how the Cheney shooting incident is playing in The Rest of the Country, we stopped in at http://www.dailymail.com/ , the Web site of one of Web Watch's hometown newspapers. The Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail asked readers: "Dick Cheney shooting a man is: a) overblown by the media. b) being covered up. c) not news. and d) no longer funny." Of the 1,337 votes cast so far, 62 percent of respondents voted for "overblown by the media."