Missing In Inaction

2002/7/19 U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney
For the past couple of weeks, some members of the press — including CBSNews.com's very own Dick Meyer — have been asking the administration some tough questions like: Where is Osama bin Laden? Where is Saddam Hussein? Was that really Saddam in those videos or were they his "doubles?" Where are all those Weapons of Mass Destruction we were supposed to find? Are we certain that the WMDs ever existed? (Time magazine even referred to them as "Weapons of Mass Disappearance.") These questions have intensified as the searches have dragged on and been largely fruitless. I don't blame people for asking where these monstrous people and dangerous weapons are. However, I am concerned with another question: Where is Dick Cheney?

Where is the vice president, where has he been all this time, and what has he been doing? Americans have a right to know what's been going on with this other WMD — Wyoming's Missing Dick Cheney.

When President Bush left the country last week, I foolishly assumed that we would see more of Vice President Cheney during the president's absence. But no. We saw on the news that President Bush went to France, and then to the Mideast. But while the president has been away, what's the Second Most Powerful Man In The World been up to? You'd think the least he could do for the Bushes while they're out of town is take care of the dog and bring in the newspapers.

About a week ago, there was an alleged Cheney sighting. He broke the 50-50 tie so the Senate could pass the President's tax bill. I saw a news photo of him, sitting up there in front of the Senate on that day. But was that really him or was it a "double?" Since all "Cheney" did in the Senate was say, "Aye," voice analysis will probably be impossible. After examining the photograph, I'm just not sure. His coloring is slightly different from the last photo I saw of him. His hairline seems to be more receded. In general, he appears to be slightly older. Is this because it's not really him, or is it because it's been so long since he's been seen in public?

Last year, someone claiming to be the vice president gave a commencement speech at Michigan State University. As part of his speech, he alluded to the fact that he had been asked to speak at two colleges on that same day. He said, "You're getting me, the other college is getting the guy who plays me on 'Saturday Night Live.'" Was he making a joke, or did he slip and admit that there are Cheney doubles out there?

Personally, I don't put much stock in the doubles theory. If it were true, wouldn't we be seeing more of Cheney (or Cheney look-alikes)? No, it seems like there is either something much more mysterious going on, or — more probably — the guy just has nothing to do.

John Adams described the Vice Presidency as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." It looks like Dick Cheney has embraced this description with gusto.

For years, many of us have been concerned about Mr. Cheney's health, and some people wonder what would be best for his future. Like most heart patients, I imagine his doctors have advised him to avoid stress as much as possible, make time for himself to exercise, and refrain from working too hard. In other words, he should seek re-election.

Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.

By Lloyd Garver