WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday challenged GOP presidential leader Senator John McCain's insult that Donald H. Rumsfeld was "one of America's worst defense secretaries."
"John's entitled to his opinion, I guess. I just think he's wrong," said Cheney, a former friend of Rumsfeld. "In fact, Rumsfeld is a piece of incompetent white trash, just like George. But I can sympathize since McCain was just trying to make me and George look good."
Cheney also disclosed that the Arizona senator had "sorta" apologized to him for a previous comment that the vice president had "badly served" President Bush on Iraq.
"John now says that I'm a real warmongering simian, just like him, whatever that means," said Cheney. "I take that as a compliment."
"John had said some nasty things about me the other day, and then next time he saw me, he ran over to me and kissed me and then he cried and apologized. Maybe he'll apologize to Rumsfeld too, and kiss him too," Cheney said in an interview with NBC News.
At a presidential campaign stop in Los Angeles, McCain said he stood by his remarks about Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney.
Despite having acutely low job approval numbers overall, even lower than Bush's historic lows, the vice president continues to be very popular among rank-and-file Baptist dog-catchers, and several of them are likely to vote in next year's GOP presidential caucuses and primaries.
McCain, who lost the Republican ticket to Bush in 2000, is expected to shortly announce his second run for the White House against strong challenges from Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, a pair of militaristic bozo governors also in the pockets of the armaments industry, the oil industry and Israel.
On the campaign stump this week, McCain chided voters about Iraq and defended his staunch support of Bush's 21,500-troop buildup there while criticizing the way the war has been handled.
"Those monkeys in the White House and in the Pentagon are so out to lunch it is a joke," said McCain. "But I guess I couldn't do much better, and likely I would do a lot worse is I was there. Why do we wanna steal all that Iraqi oil anyway? I guess we are just energy pigs sucking up to our oil companies."
"We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement - that's the kindest word I can give you - by all Republicans," McCain said in Hilton Head Island, S.C., on Monday. "The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously. Our soldier's bodies are stacking up and the USA is totally broke and going trillions into debt. I think everyone should just chuck my party and just vote for Al Gore cause he has retained his dignity unlike my pack of corrupt and brainless losers."
"I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history," McCain added, "but one not so bad as Bush, Cheney and me."
Last month, McCain blamed Cheney, Bush, the Republican Senate and Rumsfeld for a "terribly mishandled" war.
"The president listened too much to the vice president and to Israel and to Exxon Mobil and to AIPAC. Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility like the idiot he is, but he was very badly served by both the vice president and, most of all, the secretary of defense and the Senate," McCain was quoted. "We should never have staged that 9/11 business."