Vice President Dick Cheney cursed at Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, in a confrontation on the Senate floor while members were having their annual group picture taken earlier this week. . . . According to [an] aide, Mr. Cheney . . . responded with a barnyard epithet, urging Mr. Leahy to perform an anatomical sexual impossibility.
--The Washington Times.
After Mr. Cheney successfully delivered the epithet and started to walk away, Mr. Leahy--sotto voce--referred to the Vice-President using a term more often heard in taverns and locker rooms than in the august Senate chamber, a term that refers to a sexual act commonly acknowledged as taboo among all cultures that proscribe incestuous contact between a mother and a son.
Mr. Cheney--apparently hearing Mr. Leahy's remark--stopped, turned, and invited his colleague from across the aisle to engage in a sexual act that is considered a felony in some states, and which involves oral-genital contact.
Mr. Leahy then suggested that the president of the Senate take his gavel and use it to perform an act that, while not technically impossible in anatomical terms, would certainly be considered both unseemly and unhygienic, and which would require an unusual combination of single-minded ambition and physical relaxation.
Mr. Cheney wasted no time in informing Mr. Leahy that he should feel free to perform yet another anatomical impossibility--this one involving aviation, a standard sexual act, and a rolling doughnut.
At this point, according to observers, both statesmen decided--by seemingly unspoken mutual consent--to abandon the gutter patois of the common carnival worker and to resort instead to an eminently more quotable (but, to those not versed in the vagaries of hip-hop idiom, more confusing) exchange of viewpoints.
"Oh, it's like that?" Mr. Cheney queried.
"Whut? Whut?" Mr. Leahy shot back.
"Once again," Mr. Cheney replied (quite obviously quoting a lyric from Ice Cube's 1990 album, "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted"), "it's on."
As a quick-thinking senatorial aide switched on the Senate's public-address system and cued up the infamous "Seven Minutes of Funk" break, Mr. Leahy and Mr. Cheney went head-to-head in what can only be described as a "take no prisoners" freestyle rap battle.
Most of the rhymes kicked therein cannot be quoted in a family publication, but observers gave Mr. Cheney credit for his deceptively laid-back flow. Mr. Leahy was applauded for managing to rhyme the phrases "unethical for certain," "crude oil spurtin'," and "like Halliburton."
Despite the fact that both participants brought their A-game and succeeded in dropping mad scientifics, the bout seemed to end in a draw.
Unfortunately, as other senators (along with assorted aides and support-staff members) were casting their votes to decide the winner, using the admittedly subjective but generally accepted "Make some noise up in here!" protocols, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Leahy took the proceedings to what one aide accurately described as "the next level."
Edward M. Kennedy (D.-Mass.) was the first to notice that the two men were circling each other, Mr. Cheney brandishing a switchblade and Mr. Leahy the jagged neck of a broken bottle.
"Oh, snap!" Mr. Kennedy recalls thinking at the time. "It's getting kind of hectic up in this piece."
But before either of the aggrieved public servants could bust a potentially injurious move on his rival, cooler heads prevailed: a veteran Capitol Hill security guard pacified the bloodthirsty white men (Mr. Leahy first, then Mr. Cheney) with a shot from a tranquillizer gun. He then had them returned to their cages in the sub-basement of the Old Executive Office Building, where both men are kept and fed during non-business hours under the watchful eye of a volunteer from Washington's National Zoo.
(In a related story, an AM talk-radio host in Billings, Montana, who expressed his disappointment with the behavior of Mr. Cheney and Mr. Leahy--on the air, he asked his listeners, "Do we taxpayers really have time for this kind of crap?"--was fined five hundred thousand dollars for violating the F.C.C.'s recent, Senate-approved guidelines prohibiting explicit references to human excrement.)