A (Shotgun) Blast from My GOP Past

The Cheney shooting story has hit me like a mnemonic (shotgun) blast from my past. After all, it wasn't that long ago that I was married into a Texas clan that did more than its share of hunting, wildcatting, and rubbing elbows with the GOP elite of the Lone Star State.

Pulling out my slightly dusty Texas rolodex, I've begun making calls to some of my old friends -- many of whom, after all, did dance at my wedding -- and have been surprised by how many of them are more than eager to talk (and speculate) about what really happened this weekend at the Armstrong Ranch.

The first thing I'm hearing from everyone I speak to is that the hunting community in Texas is near unanimous in its feeling that the story being put out by the White House and Katherine Armstrong just doesn't hold water -- that Whittington's injuries are not consistent with the "official story." Cheney had to be much closer to Whittington when he "peppered" him than the 30 yards being claimed.

For more on this check out Josh Marshall and Firedoglake. It's everything you ever wanted to know about birdshot, pellet spread, and the relative merits of firing a 28-gauge shotgun.

The hunters in Texas I've spoken to are also up in arms over the shadow this incident has cast upon their sport -- even aside from the recklessness exhibited by the VP in swinging around into a setting sun and aiming low enough to shoot Whittington in the face.

"This isn't real hunting," one longtime sportsman told me. "This is a Six Flags amusement park version. It's playtime with loaded weapons. Driving around blasting clip-winged birds raised in pens that have been flushed out by ranch employees isn't exactly the stuff of Hemingway is it?"

Actually, given the latest indications of pre-shoot drinks and the hints of extra-marital hijinx, it feels more and more like the stuff of Updike. Or Kind Hearts and Coronets.