I haven't picked on Congress much during this, the 2nd Session of the 110th Congress. Partially because they've done some OK work this year (they haven't surrendered to BushCo as often this year as last - amazing what an election year can do to stiffen the spines of incumbents :) ), but mostly it's because like many bloggers, I've been distracted by the upcoming elections.
Anyway, I was going to do a quick blurb about Rep. Dennis Kucinich's introduction of 35 articles of impeachment against George Bush (support the spirit, but truly don't expect them to be more than a distraction). However, when I read the House's website to see what it had concerning this (not much), I came across something far more interesting (in a "source material for snarkiness" sort of way :) [read from the bottom of the quote up] -
to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide secret service protection to former Vice Presidents, and for other purposes
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
3:49 P.M. -
DEBATE - The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 5938.
Considered under suspension of the rules.
3:48 P.M. -
Ms. Lofgren, Zoe moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill.
Intrigued, I read the text of the bill. It's a short bill, and here is the relevant part of the text of the bill -
'(8) Former Vice Presidents, their spouses, and their children who are under 16 years of age, for a period of not more than six months after the date the former Vice President leaves office. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to direct the Secret Service to provide temporary protection for any of these individuals at any time thereafter if the Secretary of Homeland Security or designee determines that information or conditions warrant such protection.'
There are currently four living ex-vice presidents - Mondale, Quayle, Gore, and George H.W. Bush. One, papa Bush, already qualifies for Secret Service protection.
Under this bill, none of the other three would qualify, having been out of office for over 27 years, 15 years, and 7 years, respectively.
So this bill, as written, wouldn't protect any VP except for the current one, Dick Cheney.
And that protection can be extended indefinitely by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Pretty near every VP to ever hold the office has quickly faded into obscurity (notwithstanding Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize), unless they ascended to the Oval Office.
Why would Cheney need post-VP security? He was never a particuarly high-profile public figure before 2000, so why wouldn't he fade to obscurity like the rest?
I'm totally speculating here (if "speculation" means "wild-ass guess" ), but the only reason that I can think of that would keep Cheney in the public eye after leaving office is that Scott McClellan's book is only the beginning, and that within a year, people won't be wondering why Cheney didn't get impeached, but why he didn't get indicted.
As an aside, why would he need *taxpayer-funded* security? Couldn't Halliburton just hire Blackwater for the job?