"There may have been a beer or two in there"

Was alcohol -- or a "long list" of medications -- a factor when Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington?

Published February 15, 2006 5:19PM (EST)

In its press release on Dick Cheney's shooting incident, the Kenedy County Sherriff's Department said that there was "no alcohol" involved. As we noted Tuesday, the department must have taken Cheney and his hunting partners at their word on that one: Deputies weren't allowed within breath-smelling distance of the vice president until the morning after he shot Harry Whittington.

So did alcohol play a role in the shooting? We may never know the answer, but it now appears that alcohol was at least available to the vice president before he went hunting Saturday. As Raw Story and a covey of bloggers have noted, ranch owner Katharine Armstrong told NBC News that beer may have been served during a prehunt picnic. "There may have been a beer or two in there," she said, "but remember not everyone in the party was shooting."

If you're wondering why you haven't heard more about this side of the story -- especially given the fact that Cheney has had well-documented problems with the bottle -- here's a possible explanation: Armstrong's beer quote initially appeared online in an MSNBC story Tuesday. That story was "updated" in the wee hours of the morning today, and now the beer quote is gone. Until we hear an explanation from MSNBC, we'll consider it one more piece of the something-doesn't-add-up puzzle.

And in the meantime, here's something else to ponder: At the time he ran for the vice presidency, Cheney was taking what one of his doctors called a "long list of medications" for everything from heart troubles to high cholesterol. Doctors added more medicine to the list recently to address problems with one of the vice president's feet. Is it possible that Cheney's medications, or interactions among them, could have hampered his ability to shoot safely -- with or without a pop from a cold one in the picnic basket?

By Tim Grieve

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

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