The Cheney Shooting: A Few Questions Before the Circus Folds Its Tent

So the president is "satisfied" with Dick Cheney's "strong and powerful" explanation of the Whittington shooting, and the Kenedy Country Sheriff's Department considers the case closed.

Maybe I'm just a harder sell, but there are still a number of unanswered questions that I'd like to see answered before the circus folds up its tent and moves on (especially since, as Tim Grieve points out, the sheriff's investigation wasn't exactly a model of thoroughness).

Here are just some of the loose ends still dangling:

The Distance and the Damage Done. Cheney is sticking to his claim that he blasted Whittington from roughly 30 yards away, but hunting experts and gun enthusiasts continue to be skeptical that Whittington would have sustained the injuries he did from that distance. Which is it?

Tastes Great, Less Killing. Cheney says he had a beer with lunch. Whittington says no one was drinking during the hunt. Katherine Armstrong can"t keep her story straight -- at first it was "None, zero, zippo... No one was drinking." Then "there may be a beer or two in there..." Was alcohol a factor in the accident? The 14-and-a-half-hour delay in meeting with the sheriff means we'll never know about Cheney's blood alcohol level, but why won"t the hospital say if Whittington's blood corroborates his no-drinking claim? Why won't doctors even say whether Whittington was given a blood alcohol test?

Eyewitness or Just Making it Up? When explaining to Brit Hume why he felt Katharine Armstrong was "an excellent choice" to put the shooting story out, Cheney said: "First of all, she was an eyewitness. She'd seen the whole thing." But had she really? As emptywheel points out [via kos], odds are she didn't see the accident at all. So was she an eyewitness who'd seen the whole thing or just the designated teller of the agreed-upon tale?

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied. Cheney has offered a host of reasons for the 14-and-a-half-hour delay in meeting with the police -- but none of them hold water. His explanations for the 18-hour delay in notifying the press are even more porous. And why didn't the sheriff insist on a more timely investigation? Kos diarist BarbinMD makes Kennedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas sound like the second coming of Barney Fife.

Armed and Dangerous. Hume called Cheney a "seasoned hunter". So why, by his own admission, was he shooting downward when he blasted Whittington in the face? "The idea behind quail hunting," a South Texas hunting guide told the Washington Post, "is that you have to hit the quail when it's about five to ten feet in the air... Nobody should be shooting down." So was the VP buzzed, reckless, or just trying to get an unfair advantage on a pathetic bird?

You're Making Me Dizzy. Cheney told Hume that he had turned to his right before blasting Whittington but the sheriff's report says that Cheney turned counterclockwise. An honest mistake... or another sign that Deputy Fife and his men didn't exactly give the incident the CSI treatment?

Whatever You Do, Don't Roll Tape. And, finally, just why did Whittington -- a lawyer, after all -- refuse to let the deputies questioning him about the shooting tape-record the interview? Then again, this is the same guy who felt it was necessary to apologize to the man who shot him, so we probably shouldn't be surprised that he wanted to leave the record as ambiguous as possible.

UPDATE: Michele Reiner suggests we add a "That's What Friends Are For?" loose end: Why didn't Cheney immediately go to the hospital with the friend he had just shot instead of staying at the ranch for dinner and drinks?