In his biography of the Vice President, Stephen Hayes recounts Dick Cheney version of why he dropped the f-bomb on Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor in 2004. Cheney asserts he told Leahy to “go f— yourself” because he was close to kissing him.
A congressional source who witnessed the incident disputed that account and told ThinkProgress that Cheney unloaded his expletive when Leahy attempted to cordially shake the Vice President’s hand.
Last night on MSNBC’s Countdown, Leahy — speaking publicly about the incident for the first time — explained that traditionally all Vice Presidents have reached out to both sides of the aisle when they come onto the Senate floor, but “Dick Cheney never does. He always stands on the Republican side.” Leahy continued:
So I walked over and thought maybe he was being shy. I said, Dick, come on over and talk to the Democrats too. We won’t bite you. He reacted as he has described he reacted.
The irony is that the Republican Senators who were there were the ones who told the press about it. I didn’t say anything to anyone about it. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve publicly stated what happened.
Leahy criticized Hayes for failing to check Cheney’s version of events with others who witnessed the incident. “If Mr. Hayes had intended to write a serious story other than a puff piece about the Vice President,” Leahy said, “he would have actually picked up the phone and called me or called several of the senators standing there.”