‘Fourth Branch’ Cheney Strikes Again

We all had a good laugh last month when Dick Cheney’s office argued, in all sincerity, that the Vice President could ignore executive orders because he’s not part of the executive branch of government. Eventually, the Bush gang dropped the argument from their talking points, but until after they’d humiliated themselves.

Yesterday, CBS News’ Mark Knoller sat down with Cheney for a fairly long interview, which included this follow up to last month’s absurdities: (transcript via Nexis)

Q: There was an aide in your office who said that one of the reasons you weren’t abiding by that executive order was that you’re really not part of the executive branch. Do you have — are you part of the executive branch, sir?

CHENEY: Well, the job of the Vice President is an interesting one, because you’ve got a foot in both the executive and the legislative branch. Obviously, I’ve got an office in the West Wing of the White House, I’m an adviser of the President, I sit as a member of the National Security Council. At the same time, under the Constitution, I have legislative responsibilities. I’m actually paid by the Senate, not by the executive. I sit as the President of the Senate, as the presiding officer in the Senate. I cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate. So the Vice President is kind of a unique creature, if you will, in that you’ve got a foot in both branches.

Q: But you are principally a part of the executive branch, are you not?

CHENEY: Well, I suppose you could argue it either way. The fact is I do work in both branches. Under the Constitution, I’m assigned responsibilities in the legislative branch. Then the President obviously gives me responsibilities in the executive branch. And I perform both those functions, although I think it would be fair to say I spend more time on executive matters than legislative matters.

Keep in mind, as of June 28, Cheney reportedly rejected this whole approach, and said he disapproved of the fourth-branch argument. Indeed, the Office of the Vice President has insisted over and over again in recent years that it’s entitled to certain liberties as part of the executive branch.

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And yet, he's still unwilling to answer the question directly?

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