(Washington D.C.) - A spokesman for Dick Cheney today tried to mitigate the reaction to a remark the Vice President made yesterday about the frequency of incest in the American South. Speaking at the National Press Club on Monday, Cheney drew nervous chuckles when he said, "There are Cheney's on both sides of my family tree, and we're not even from West Virginia."
Speaking from the West Wing, Cheney spokesman Don Rickles told White House reporters today that, "Obviously the Vice President was joking, but he realizes now that some subjects are just not funny, especially to the inbred crackers who live in West Virginia. From now on the Vice President intends to limit his jokes to safer topics, such as cripples and retards."
An outraged Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) later refused to acknowledge Cheney's apology.
"That a man who has ascended to the seat of vice president of the United States would openly display such contempt and astounding ignorance toward his own countrymen is an insult to all Americans."
Senator Byrd was just getting started, however.
"What do you expect out of Dick Cheney anyway? He's obviously got one too many cousins in his family tree, if you know what I mean."
This small tempest follows a "joke" Cheney made at a KKK rally earlier this year, for which he also had to apologize. Speaking before the Grand Imperial Wizards of the Georgia chapter of the Klu Klux Klan back in March, Cheney got into hot water when he said, "Wouldn't it be funny if Barack Obama took a bullet in the ear while campaigning?"
Following a roar from the crowd, Cheney smiled and said, "Hey, just a joke, people. Just a joke."
Cheney's bizarre sense of humor is well known in Washington circles. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a high-ranking military official said he saw first hand how clueless Cheney could be when the Vice President thinks he is being funny during a visit to Walter Reed Medical Center.
"He was visiting injured Iraq War veterans," the commander said, "and he started fooling around with one of the kids who had just been brought in from Tikrit. Cheney started waiving his hand around in the young man's face, saying, "Got your nose, got your nose. Oops, looks like a roadside bomb already got it first."
Frowning, the commander concluded, "I just didn't think that was appropriate."
It has been long rumored that Cheney often likes to tell people at dinner parties that the Iraq War is in fact his greatest joke ever.
"He really gets a kick out of having punk'd the American people on Iraq," said Bootsy Collins, a popular Washington society matron.
"He'd get up in front of us while the port was being served and say, "There is definitely a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11," and then he'd just laugh and laugh until tears were streaming from his eyes."
Hollywood appears to also have taken notice of Cheney's unique sense of humor. Producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin) has hired Cheney to write a script for him once the V.P. leaves office.
"I meet him one night at a Washington dinner," Apatow relates, "and he had them rolling in the aisles with his impression of a hung (and well hung) Saddam Hussein. I just thought that maybe he'd fit right in here in Hollywood once his political career is over. Eventually I got him alone and he told me this great story about a man who is such a bad hunter that he's always shooting his friends in the face. I said to myself, "Now there is a movie idea that people in the red states might find really funny."
Tentatively titled "The Man Who Couldn't Shoot Straight," Apatow hopes the film can be completed and in theaters in time for Academy Awards consideration next fall.