June 3rd, 2008
06:12 AM ET
7 years ago

Cheney apologizes to West Virginians for inbreeding joke

Cheney’s West Virginia joke drew fire from Sen. Byrd.
Cheney’s West Virginia joke drew fire from Sen. Byrd.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Vice President Dick Cheney apologized Monday for what his spokeswoman called "an inappropriate attempt at humor" that implied that inbreeding is common among West Virginians, a remark that elicited outrage from the state's senior senator.

Asked during a question-and-answer session at the National Press Club about the fact that a search of his family tree found he is a distant relative of Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential front-runner, Cheney said the two politicians were unlikely to hold a family reunion.

He said that the Cheney line on his father's side of the family dates to 1630's, and a Cheney family line on his mother's side dates to the 1650's.

"So, I had Cheneys on both sides of the family - and we don't even live in West Virginia," Cheney cracked. After pausing for laughter from the crowd, Cheney added, "You can say those things when you're not running for re-election."

Afterward, West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd lashed out at Cheney for the "insult to all Americans." In a written statement, Byrd declared that Cheney showed "contempt and astounding ignorance toward his own countrymen" with the comments.

"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," said Byrd, a Democrat. "With his trademark arrogance, the vice president even added, 'You can say those things when you're not running for re-election.' "

He added, "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."

Shortly thereafter, Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said Cheney'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," McBride said.


Filed under: Vice President Cheney
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Vig

    Isn't Obama related to this guy? Must be in the genes – impaired judgment.

    June 2, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  2. Steve B, NewYork. NY

    Haaaa haa haa
    And who said that Cheney is not a funny guy.
    You see Hillary ... even Cheney knows who voted for you !
    Thats just funny

    June 2, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  3. Kris

    Oh for Pete's sake! It's a joke! Get over it!

    June 2, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. David Goldman for OBAMA

    NOW WEST VIRGINIA, UNFORTUNATELY KNOWS WHAT

    THOSE THEY HAVE CONSISTENTLY VOTED FORE, THINK

    OF THEM.

    June 2, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. Stunned

    He's disgusting. Well, WV you voted for him.

    June 2, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Old Man Yells at Clouds –

    Cheney doth protest too much about his own "breeding" – HA HA HA HA HA

    June 2, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  7. And I mean...

    So?

    June 2, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  8. NickNas

    Byrd declared that Cheney showed "contempt and astounding ignorance toward his own countrymen" with the comments.

    SO?? Why should YOU be special? Cheney has shown ALL of us the same lack of any kind of regard or respect since he and his troll of a Boss stole the Whitehouse.

    June 2, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  9. Jason

    They voted for him... maybe they do.

    June 2, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  10. EDW

    Wow, now is that enough to harm the Rupublican's in November or do West Virginian's even have TV's and computers?

    June 2, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  11. lol

    LOL, LMAO, THAT WAS FUNNY!!!

    June 2, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  12. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Old Man Yells at Clouds –

    McShame probably agrees with McCheney and McBush

    Time for younger, unbiased people to stop the prejudice in this world!!

    IT'S TIME.

    June 2, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  13. CJ

    This is a new low... I feel bad for the people of West Virginia

    June 2, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  14. DrFill

    Everybody is good at something............
    We know where to go now.
    Thanks for the tip, Dick!
    DrFill

    June 2, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. erica

    he's not going for reelection but isn't his party?
    isn't mccain's ideas soooo close to his own?

    will people understand the backwards thinking of these two people at least?!

    ugh. disgusting.

    June 2, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. Debbie

    Dick Cheney is an arrogant jerk. That's news?

    June 2, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  17. John Smith

    Unfortunately, most of the people opposing Obama, or calling him "inexperienced" are either "racists" or are simply not aware of the fact that --Obama is a "Constitutional Scholar". Hillary and McCain are NOT constitutional scholars. Fresh from looking at the Constitution, Obama is ready to lead!!! We need Change in this NATION! There is a need for change in "generational thinking."

    June 2, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  18. Jason

    What an idiot.

    June 2, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  19. Rita Z, Burbank, CA

    From anyone except Cheney, this would be shocking.

    June 2, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  20. unions are not stupid

    give me a break! I this man is nothing but a fat joke that belongs in prison for his crimes against the American and Iraq people. He has personally profited millions of dollars. At the expense of loyal hard working American troops, and thousands of Iraq families with his lies and trickery! It is a disgrace to the fabric of our country that such a vile human is allowed to walk free and spew his hate to others.

    June 2, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  21. Illinois

    Well, come on, it was Cheney who make the remark. Enough said.

    June 2, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. B

    Not surprising. Another tick on the long list of insults issued to the American people from this bedraggled "administration". Good night Sir Cheney – The Death Star is leaving orbit soon.

    June 2, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  23. sophia nyc

    Cheney never cared about America. Only his bank account.

    June 2, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  24. Enlightened Voter

    Even though it's true, I'd like to personally thank darth vadar for handing WV to the democrats. See, I knew there was a teeny, tiny spot of good in ya.

    June 2, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  25. Kiah

    Well well well lookey what we have here...isn't this the state that didn't vote for Obama for his racist and so called elistist remarks and here you have Cheney, who if not for WV wouldn't be office. And for that matter our country wouldn't be in the craptastic condition it's in now but that's another story. But isn't it nice to see that he's biting the hand that fed him.

    Bet it doesn't feel good knowing that for all of the PANDERING they do to the "working hard-working White Americans" in WV at the end of the day, they still treat you all like crap.

    Makes you wonder WV if THEY really care about you as much as they SAY for the sake of elections that they do!

    June 2, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
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