Wait, wait we take it all back. We mocked Dick Cheney earlier today for getting snippy about how he had to cut short his vacation to deal with Hurricane Katrina. But it turns out that we were maligning the vice president unfairly. It turns out that he -- or at least his office -- was working all along.
According to a report in the Hattiesburg American, Cheney's office placed calls to the Southern Pines Electric Power Association on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31, insisting that the agency immediately repair two electrical substations that supply power to Atlanta-based Colonial Pipeline Co., a company that pumps gasoline and diesel from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.
Southern Pines complied with the order from Cheney's office, the paper says -- taking a risk that the repair work would knock out power throughout its system and delaying by at least a day efforts to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in Mississippi.
Neither Cheney's office nor Colonial Pipeline would respond to questions from the paper about the vice president's directives.
Update: Several readers have reminded us that the pipeline Cheney's office helped to get back online provides a substantial percentage of the fuel needed in the Northeast, and that therefore the choice to restore power to the pipeline rather than to two rural hospitals might well have been the right one from a national perspective. But if that's the case, as one reader asks, why wouldn't the White House want to trumpet Cheney's decisive action in the time of diaster? Could it be that the government doesn't want to acknowledge, for the al Qaidas of the world to see, that a single pipeline is so important to the nation? Or is it that the White House just didn't want Cheney's actions -- if they were Cheney's actions -- to stand in contrast to the president's slow and stumbling response to Katrina?