Dick Cheney and the disease of kings

Does the vice president suffer from gout?

Published January 17, 2006 9:57PM (EST)

We always knew that Budweiser was the "King of Beers," but we'll confess that we didn't know until today that gout is sometimes known as the "disease of kings." The reason, according to the American College of Rheumatology: Gout has "long been erroneously associated with the kind of overindulgence in food and wine only the rich and powerful could afford."

We bring you this medical moment not just to reveal our own shortcomings on things rheumatological but, rather, because there's a fellow in Virginia who figures that it explains the White House silence on whatever medical condition ails Vice President Dick Cheney.

James Putney -- the vice president of a consulting firm in Richmond, a former aide to Republican Sen. George Allen and a gout sufferer himself -- says that he's sure that Cheney has gout but won't admit it publicly because it would reinforce everything everyone suspects of the veep. "The liberal press will shriek, 'Aha! The King's Disease!'" Putney tells the Washington Times. "Of course, they will work overtime to further portray Cheney as an elitist: one-half of the 'Bush-Cheney Monarchy.'"

With all due respect to Mr. Putney's medical expertise, we're not sure that any overtime work would be required to prove that charge.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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