Dick Cheney's Bust Unveiled At The Capitol, As He's Lightly Roasted Former Vice President Dick Cheney returned to the U.S. Capitol on Thursday for a ceremony honoring his service as president of the Senate. Former President George W. Bush was among those honoring him.
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Dick Cheney's Bust Unveiled At The Capitol, As He's Lightly Roasted

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Dick Cheney's Bust Unveiled At The Capitol, As He's Lightly Roasted

Dick Cheney's Bust Unveiled At The Capitol, As He's Lightly Roasted

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/458361257/458361258" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

There's a new addition to the statue-lined hallways of the U.S. Capitol, a marble bust in the likeness of Dick Cheney. It's a tradition and a perk afforded vice presidents since the late 1800s. This morning, the sitting vice president joined former President George W. Bush and other dignitaries offering effusive praise and polite jokes as the sculpture was unveiled. NPR's Don Gonyea has this from the ceremony.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Cheney was the nation's 45th vice president. Joining the tribute today was newly minted House Speaker Paul Ryan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL RYAN: Nobody could accuse Dick Cheney of living an inconsequential life.

GONYEA: He noted that Cheney was in the White House on 9/11, that he'd been Secretary of Defense during the first Gulf War and that he was Gerald Ford's chief of staff after Watergate. President George W. Bush made a rare Washington appearance to attend.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GEORGE W. BUSH: He assured me that Dick's bust would be prominently displayed in an undisclosed location.

GONYEA: There were Cheney as Darth Vader jokes, and about Cheney cursing at a Democratic U.S. Senator on the Senate floor. In a recent biography of George H.W. Bush, the former president criticized Cheney's hardline views as VP. That, too, was fodder for the younger Bush.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BUSH: Last week, I told Mother and Dad I was coming here for the bust unveiling. Dad perked up and he said, send my best regards to old iron ass.

(LAUGHTER)

GONYEA: The only Democrat on stage was Vice President Joe Biden. He and Cheney have often been political combatants. But today...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: ... I actually like Dick Cheney.

GONYEA: This was not an event for Cheney critics on the war, or torture, or related topics. Biden pointed to the kindness Cheney showed him after the death of Biden's son, Beau, earlier this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: I can say without fear of contradiction, there's never one single time been a harsh word - not one single time in our entire relationship.

GONYEA: Finally, the unveiling.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: The likeness, if not uncanny, is very good. The marble Cheney delivers a cold stare as the real Cheney looks on. And the sculpture also reveals just a hint of that thin, dry smile that Cheney became so well-known for. Cheney has never been sentimental, nor was he today. His family looked on from the front row, including his wife, Lynne.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DICK CHENEY: I reminded Lynne this morning that if the Cheney family had not moved to Casper, Wyo., in the early '50s, we never would've met and she would've married someone else. And Lynne responded, right, and today, we'd be dedicating his marble bust.

(LAUGHTER)

GONYEA: Then he did reflect for a moment, wondering what some future visitor might see in this bust of Dick Cheney.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHENEY: I would want them to know this much at least - here was a believer in America, so fortunate in his life experiences, so blessed in his friends and so grateful all his days to have served as vice president of the United States of America. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The audio of this story, as did a previous Web version, incorrectly states Dick Cheney was the nation's 45th vice president. He was the 46th.]

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