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. Mark

    Where are all the Republicans lashing out at this remark and calling Cheney an "elitist"?

    June 2, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. JWheeler

    Cousins marrying cousins. I knew there was something wrong with Dick Cheney.

    June 2, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. noemi of reason

    out with the gop and in with the new.

    June 2, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  4. Dancindukes

    I work for a company based in West Virginia. The CEO pays for the college costs of all of his 300+ employees. Anyone else in the other 49 states doing that? They also run the #1 child care early education program in the state. Chaney – Shame on you ! Go back to Wyoming and your small minded world.

    June 2, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. win55

    Did you expect anything different from someone who himself didn't have a college diploma and was 5 times defered from the service. He is a liar and cheat and doesn't care whose feelings he hurts.

    June 2, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. Anita - AZ

    WOW, if that comment doesn't make you want CHANGE in this country, nothing will.

    June 2, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. Outraged in West Virginia

    How dare he single out West Virginia!!! Kentucky has way more inbreeding. Robert Byrd should know that. But then again, you have to cut him a break. He is from West Virginia. They hain't got much lernin there.

    June 2, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. PeterK

    They voted for him? They deserve him!

    June 2, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Where has Cheney been anyway?? He seemed to be bunkered down again–waiting to pop out of his hole and say a few comments-then it's bye-bye Cheney again.

    Like whack a mole.

    June 2, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. bill pike

    bush and cleney need a lot of exposure over the next few months to guarantee obama gets elected. maybe the DNC can hire them to go around and express their thoughts. bush may be busy because they got their one book to complete his library in dallas, and both of these guys need to go hunting together–often.

    June 2, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    All repukes care about are the votes. They lied to KY, PA, WV and everywhere else.

    Dummies – you idiots bought their lies. We all have to live with it !!!!!

    June 2, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. TESAP

    I thought the joke was funny... :)

    June 2, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  13. Bob C.

    What is Newsy here.
    These people – Bush, Chaney, and the Rest of the White House and Congessional Republicans, have shown nothing but complete CONTEMPT for America and Americans for years. And his reply is Typical, what are you all going to do about it.. ha . Can't do a thing.

    June 2, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. Essy

    so?

    June 2, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. big mike, miami

    let's face it, he's right. the majority of west virginians are a bunch of inbred hillbillies.

    June 2, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  16. a p

    West Virginians, hope you know better than to vote Republican this time around...You do not deserve to be ridiculed like that !

    June 2, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. joihn briscoe

    Dear Mr. Cheney...do you thiunk that has somthing with your daughter prefering women instead of men...or did you personall have something to do with that?

    June 2, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. karol

    They should not post this on CNN since West Virginians don't have any media to inform them what is going on. I guess Peurto ricans are much better.

    June 2, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. No McSame

    We will find out how true it is in November. If they vote for him it is true and if they don't then they were just fools for voting for the republicans all those years. You people are some of the poorest in the country because of the way you have voted in the past. Time for a change people. Join the rest of the country in getting them out of office.
    Obama is the way.
    Obama08

    June 2, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. cheryl

    I think we are too correct in our language to have a sence of humor or intellegence. when are we going to stop the stupidity and focous on the really important issues?

    June 2, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  21. JIM CARTER

    Why don't terd bird keep ;his mouth shut instead of telling someone else to be quiet??????

    June 2, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  22. n

    LOL. that was funny.
    can't people laugh at themselves anymore?

    June 2, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  23. B

    What do you want to bet WV will vote Republican again this year? Maybe "Dick" has a point.

    June 2, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  24. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    The WHOLE WORLD has to suffer because of the Republicans.

    When will the bias and prejudice STOP?

    Blitzer? I dare you to say one more word about Obama !!!!!!!!

    June 2, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. John

    See that WV. This is your man...................

    June 2, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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