The marble bust of former Vice President Dick Cheney was unveiled Thursday at the Capitol. And though there were no cracks in his marble likeness, there were plenty of wisecracks from the presenters.
Top Republican leaders from the House and Senate, along with former president George W. Bush and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., honored Cheney in the Capitol Visitor Center ceremony. Cheney’s bust joins other vice presidents’ busts that are placed throughout Senate’s second and third floor to commemorate their role as presidents of the Senate.
And in between praise for Cheney, they had a few laughs:
1. Cheney remarked how he and Speaker Paul D. Ryan had similar, but divergent, career paths: Cheney once aspired to be speaker, while Ryan had vice presidential ambitions.
“You got the job with the actual power and authority,” Cheney said, “and I got a very nice marble bust.”
2. Bush cracked a joke at the beginning of his speech. He apparently referenced Cheney being rushed to a secret location after the Sept. 11, 2011, terror attacks, and said, “As the majority leader, Mitch is really in charge now. As a matter of fact, he assured me that Dick’s bust would be prominently displayed in an undisclosed location.”
3. Cheney thanked his wife, Lynne, and said he told her Thursday morning that if he had not moved to Wyoming, they probably wouldn’t have met and she’d be married to someone else. Cheney said Lynne responded, “And today we’d be dedicating his marble bust.”
4. Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, also a former VP, made a comedic cameo.
“Over time I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of Dick’s predecessors,” the younger Bush said. “I’ve known one of them my whole life. Last week I told Mom and Dad I was coming here for the bust unveiling. Dad perked up, and he said, ‘Send my best regards to Old Iron Ass.'”
5. And, of course, the choked-on-a-pretzel incident made an appearance.
“I knew all along that Dick Cheney had the character, integrity and judgment that I needed and wanted as a running mate,” Bush said. “He had the experience to step in as commander-in-chief if I were to get hit by a bus, or choke on a pretzel.”
6. Ryan also referenced a joke from Lynne Cheney: “When the vice president had his critics just going off the deep end, as they often do, he asked Lynne, his wife, ‘Does it bug you when people refer to me as Darth Vader?’ And she said, ‘No. It humanizes you.'”
7. Cheney also noted that his predecessor, Democratic Vice President Al Gore, still did not have a Senate bust, and subsequently made a crack about his own not-so-sunny disposition.
“Apparently there have been a few delays in the work on Al’s likeness,” Cheney said. “It may be I’m somehow easier to carve into stone.”
8. As VP, Cheney was tasked with casting eight tie-breaking Senate votes.
“He did an exceptional job at discharging his duties as the president of the Senate,” Bush said. “Every single time that Dick cast a vote, we won.”
9. Cheney noted that he headed Bush’s vice presidential selection committee before becoming the nominee. He said, “That search committee was a diligent little enterprise and before long we found our man.”
10. Bush started his speech taking a whack at Ryan’s beard.
“I want to thank Speaker Ryan for his leadership,” Bush said. “He’s trying out for the Abraham Lincoln lookalike contest.”
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