I saw this in the news paper today. Busted a gut laughing.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House was bombarded with questions on Monday about why it failed to go public with news that Vice President Dick Cheney shot a fellow quail hunter until the day after the accident.
The victim, Harry Whittington, 78, took pellets in his cheek, neck and chest when Cheney fired his shotgun while aiming for a bird during a hunt in southern Texas on Saturday, and was in stable condition at a Corpus Christi hospital.
Whittington was moved out of intensive care on Monday afternoon but Peter Banko, administrator of Christus Spohn Hospital, said he did not know when he would be discharged.
"His condition continues to be stable ... it's not critical, it's not serious. He's in stable condition, doing extremely well," Banko said.
The accident happened about 5:30 p.m. on a private ranch about 200 miles south of San Antonio, where the vice president has hunted previously. Whittington was treated on the scene by Cheney's travelling medical detail before being taken by helicopter to the hospital.
The accident was not reported publicly by the vice president's office until Sunday afternoon and then only after an account provided by the ranch's owner appeared on the Web site of the local newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
In a testy exchange with reporters on Monday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan faced dozens of questions about the propriety of a private citizen making public a shooting incident involving the vice president and whether Cheney had followed White House protocol.
McClellan said President George W. Bush and senior aides were first told by staff in the Situation Room that there had been an accident in Cheney's hunting party and that the president learnt later on Saturday night that the vice president had been the shooter.
"I think he was informed in a relatively reasonable time," McClellan said at the news briefing.
A LONG STORY
McClellan said the vice president's staff did not tell reporters about the accident on Saturday because they were concerned about getting Whittington medical attention and were still gathering facts.
Cheney and the owner of the property, Katharine Armstrong, then agreed that she should provide the information to the public about an accident that happened on her ranch.
"The vice president spoke with Mrs. Katharine Armstrong, and they agreed that she should make that information public," McClellan said. "She was an eyewitness. She saw what occurred and she called her local paper to provide those facts."
Armstrong said it wasn't until Sunday that she telephoned the Caller-Times. She did not notify the national media or the White House press corps.
McClellan declined to say if he was satisfied with the way it was handled.
"You can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job," he said.
McClellan said he found out that Cheney was involved at 6 a.m. on Sunday and urged that information be made available as quickly as possible.
According to Armstrong's account, she saw the incident from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter, identified by the Caller-Times on Monday as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Pam Willeford, got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail.
As Whittington went to retrieve a bird he had shot, Cheney and Willeford spotted a second covey.
Whittington came up behind and failed to signal that he was there or announce himself, which is proper protocol for hunters. Cheney, an experienced hunter, fired his shotgun without realising that Whittington had approached the group.