Who’s Dick Cheney’s favorite president?
We may never know, but when asked that question during a Fox News interview Sunday, the man who made Cheney one of the most powerful men in the free world didn’t immediately leap to mind.
“Boy, I've got more than one. And I wouldn't want to single out any one particular one,” the vice president, who’s never been accused of being indecisive, told newsman Chris Wallace.
Instead of immediately naming George W. Bush, his boss for eight years, Cheney instead dwelt on Gerald Ford, an accidental president never elected to the presidency, and hardly on anyone’s short list as a great leader of the 20th Century.
“Well, I loved working for Gerry Ford. I was there at a very special time,” Cheney gushed. Then he seemed to realize he might want to give a shoutout to George W. Bush.
“But I couldn't say anything with respect to my time in office that didn't focus very much on the current president and on this administration and these eight years in terms of my involvement and in terms of the tough decisions the president had to make,” Cheney rambled. Bush was “consequential.”
“He has been, in my mind, a very consequential president, a guy who made very tough decisions and never looked back.”
He then compared Bush to Ford – not Reagan or even his father, George H.W. Bush, who presided over the final days of the Cold War.
“They've both been willing to make very tough decisions that they thought were right for the country and let history judge down the road whether or not they made good decisions.”
In the lengthy interview, Cheney’s longest and most in-depth in months, the vice president also acknowledged for the first time his highly publicized use of raw language during an encounter with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy.
The famous exchange between Leahy and Cheney took place on the Senate floor in June 2004 after the vice president dropped by for a photograph session.
He bumped into the Vermont senator, who began pestering him about Halliburton, the oilfield services corporation of which Cheney had been CEO.
“Did you really tell Senator Leahy, bleep yourself?” Wallace asked.
“I did,” Cheney said.
“Any qualms or second thoughts or embarrassment?”
“No,” Cheney replied. “I thought he merited it at the time. And we've since, I think, patched over that wound and we're civil to one another now.”
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