***UPDATE*** Akers reports that Cheney has now apologized for his West Virginia incest joke:
Vice President Dick Cheney has apologized through his spokeswoman for making an offhand joke during a speech at the National Press Club Monday stereotyping West Virginia as a state prone to incest.
Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride tells us, "The Vice President's offhand comment was not meant to hurt anyone. On reflection, he concluded that it was an inappropriate attempt at humor that he should not have made. The Vice President apologizes to the people of West Virginia for the inappropriate remark."
Cheney was at the Press Club to congratulate this year's winners of the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency. During a question-and-answer session toward the end of the luncheon, someone asked the vice president about his wife Lynne Cheney's revelation on MSNBC last year that "Dick and Barack Obama are eighth cousins."
The questioner jokingly asked the vice president if he and Obama were going to have a family reunion, to which Cheney replied he would "have no objections" though he said he doubted Obama would want one - "certainly not before November."
Then came the offensive punch line. Cheney explained that during the course of researching his family lineage for Lynne's memoir "Blue Skies, No Fences" last year, he learned there were Cheneys on both his father's and his mother's side of the family. There was a Richard Cheney on his mother's side, the vice president said.
"So I had Cheneys on both sides of the family and we don't even live in West Virginia," Cheney quipped.
Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia was not amused:
"That a man who has ascended to the seat of Vice President of the United States would openly display such contempt and astounding ignorance toward his own countrymen is an insult to all Americans. Now that he or the Administration he represents no longer needs their vote, Mr. Cheney apparently feels that he is now free to mock and belittle the people of West Virginia. With his trademark arrogance, the Vice President even added 'You can say those things when you're not running for re-election.'"
"This pitiful comment is not entirely surprising when you consider the source. Vice President Cheney's words reflect the attitude of an administration and a party that says what they must to get elected and then turns their backs on those they promised to represent."