18%?

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Sunday, March 5, 2006

These must be sobering days for Vice President Cheney as he reflects on recent events from his secret Fortress of Solitude.

Iraq teeters on the brink of civil war. The Bush agenda is in tatters. And one of his friends is recovering from an accidental gunshot wound inflicted by Cheney on a hunting trip. A particularly unfortunate mishap, as we learned last week, because Cheney wounded one of the rarest birds in America: someone who actually likes the vice president.

The latest CBS News poll found that only 18 percent of the public has a favorable view of Cheney. How bad is a rating of 18 percent? According to a quick review of polling archives, it arguably makes Cheney:

· Less popular than singer Michael Jackson , bedmate of little boys and world-class screwball. One in four Americans -- 25 percent -- told Gallup polltakers last June they were still Jackson fans after the onetime King of Pop was found not guilty of child molesting.

· Less popular than former football star O.J. Simpson was after his arrest and trial for murdering his estranged wife and her companion. Three in 10 -- 29 percent -- of all Americans had a favorable view of Simpson in an October, 1995 Gallup poll.

· Less popular with Americans than Joseph Stalin is with Russians. In 2003, fully 20 percent said Stalin, blamed for millions of deaths in the former Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s, was a "wise and humane" leader. Thirty-one percent also said they wouldn't object if Uncle Joe came back to rule again, according to surveys conducted by Russian pollsters.

· Much less popular than former Vice President Spiro Agnew in his final days in office. Forty-five percent approved of the job that Agnew was doing as President Richard Nixon's veep in a Gallup Poll conducted in August 1973, little more than a month before Agnew resigned and pleaded no contest to a criminal tax evasion charge arising from a bribery investigation.

· Far less popular than former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey days after he announced in August 2004 that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with a man and would resign. His job approval rating bumped from 43 to 45 percent.

But take heart, Dick. About 35 percent of those interviewed by the CBS poll didn't offer an opinion of you. Perhaps some of your supporters were shy. And other polls released later in the week pegged your popularity considerably higher.

Besides, even at 18 percent you're not the least popular public figure in America. You're slightly better liked than that fabulously blond and brainless party girl Paris Hilton. She was viewed favorably last June by

15 percent of the public, according to Gallup.

-- Richard Morin


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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