By DALE MCFEATTERS - Scripps Howard News Service
During their debate, when Vice President Cheney and opponent John Edwards weren't talking, they were scribbling madly away on lined yellow legal pads like college kids trying to finish an essay during class.
Neither of them referred to the notes; they just jotted them down. It couldn't be for future reference because the whole debate was being taped. The candidates could always go back and relive the highlights later.
But now the mystery has been solved. They were writing notes to each other. And here they are:
EDWARDS: Good evening, Mr. Vice President. I look forward to a good, constructive debate. In view of your health problems, if at any time you want to take a break, I'll understand.
CHENEY: I, too, look forward to a good debate, senator, and if at any time you want to take a break to chase an ambulance, I'll understand.
E: Not to throw you off your pace, but Gwen Ifill likes me best. She said so on the way in.
C: Not to throw you off your pace, either, but the Secret Service has sniper rifles trained on everybody in the room. Try not to make any sudden moves or even look in my direction. It's too late to do anything about it now, but you really should do something about your hair. It's sticking up in back. Looks real funny.
E: At least I have hair. What did you do to your skull tonight? Wax it? You look like a full moon.
C: God only gives each man only so many male hormones. If you want to waste yours growing hair, that's OK.
E: Look at yourself in the monitor. Is that your necktie or did you throw up all over your shirt?
C: Guess how many fingers I'm holding up behind my notes?
E: What do you mean, saying we never met? Don't you remember the prayer breakfast? Good food, too - eggs, bacon, french toast - although I notice you had to eat dry toast, decaf with soy milk and unsweetened grapefruit. How is the old ticker, anyway?
C: That was you? I thought you were with the Baptist boys' choir. My mistake.
E: Doesn't it bother you that you're so much smarter than that bozo you work for? You do all the work and he goes to his ranch and falls off his bicycle.
C: No more than it bothers you that you're a much better candidate than Kerry. And you don't look anywhere near as weird, either.
E: Could you sit up straight? And quit wringing your hands; it's making the audience nervous. And didn't your mother ever tell you, "Mabel, Mabel, strong and able, keep your elbows off the table"? You look like you're in a saloon, for heaven's sake.
C: Speaking of appearance, you may want to lay off those Halliburton cracks. You're going to be unemployed come January, and I might be able to see that a little legal work is thrown your way.
E: My record may be undistinguished, but at least I got to the Senate. By the way, what was it like serving in the House with Henry Clay?
C: Now that you brought up the gay thing, I might mention you're a really good-looking guy. Do you get hit on a lot by other men?
E: Mrs. Cheney is a real babe. What do you suppose she does while you're in a "secure undisclosed location"? Just asking.
C: Speaking of "secure undisclosed location," this thing is just about over. You up for a beer?
E: You're on.
C: And stay away from Mrs. Cheney.
I can't believe I just read that whole thing.
So much wasted potential! After the hormones exchange, it stopped being funny.