In a “chance meeting” on the Senate floor with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in June 2004, Vice President Cheney told Leahy to “f*ck yourself.” According to Leahy’s spokesman, the “exchange began when Leahy crossed the aisle at the photo session and joked to Cheney about being on the Republican side.” Cheney then “‘lashed into’ Leahy for remarks he…made criticizing Iraq contracts won without competitive bidding by Halliburton.”
In the new biography of the Vice President by Stephen Hayes, Cheney claims that the reason he shouted the expletive was because Leahy had been too “close” to him:
Leahy came over and put his arm around me. And he didn’t kiss me but it was close to it. So I flashed and I told him — I dropped the F-bomb on him. … It was heartfelt.
Leahy was not “close” to kissing Cheney; all he did was try to shake his hand. One congressional source with knowledge of the event explained what happened to ThinkProgress:
There were several witnesses from both parties. Leahy walked over in a friendly way and said the Vice President should feel free to come over on the other side of the aisle too, that Democrats won’t bite, and he held out his hand. The Vice President started to stick out his hand in response and then drew it back, and that’s when he unloaded his expletive.
It’s not surprising that Cheney overreacted when Leahy tried to exchange pleasantries. According to Hayes, Cheney “won’t meet with Democrats.” At the time, Cheney said that his comment to Leahy was “long overdue.”