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Impeach Bush? But That Would Mean . . .

Vice President Cheney speaks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about a topic very dear to him: oil.Video by Akira Hakuta/washingtonpost.comWashington Sketch

No argument there. Donahue provided a character reference for the vice president: "a really good human being," a "savvy businessman," a "compassionate man" and, best of all, "an avid conservationist with an unparalleled appreciation for nature."

Come again?

Cheney, taking over the lectern, made reference to his beleaguered status, recalling the adage that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. "Just to cover myself, I got two," he joked.

He dismissed the current economic picture -- the housing and credit crises and high gas and food prices -- as "recent headwinds" and assured the business officials: "I believe that our country has greater wealth-creating potential than ever before." And to keep things in this excellent condition, he advised, Democrats in Congress should refrain from letting Bush's tax cuts lapse ("that would be a staggering burden on the nation's households") and stop giving in to "the false comforts of protectionism."

He then turned to his energy plan. "We must produce more energy right here in the United States," he said. Specifically, fossil fuels. He praised Bush's work on alternative and renewable fuels, but he put such things in a "20, 40 or 50 years" time frame. And though he voiced a need to deal with carbon emissions, he scolded the Senate's attempt to do that last week. "All Americans can be grateful" that the climate bill failed, he said.

But enough about global warming and other energy sources. "Meanwhile, in the here and now, we are an economy that runs on petroleum," the vice president declared. "We'd be doing the whole country a favor if more of that oil were produced here at home." He scolded lawmakers who say "no to drilling in ANWR, no to drilling off the East Coast, no to drilling off the West Coast, no to drilling off Florida."

Chamber President Donohue could not restrain himself. "That was a great talk!" he exulted. He asked Cheney to draw on his "experience in the industry, which sometimes in this town is not respected," to tell the business lobby how to "get some results in the Congress."

Cheney was firing on all cylinders now. He railed against the proposed windfall tax on oil company profits. He praised the "unbelievable" drilling technology the industry -- his former industry -- had developed. While hybrid cars and the like are nice, he said, "we've got a huge hydrocarbon resource" to burn first.

Now what was that about impeaching Bush?

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