Young Drunkard Dick Cheney On The Mountaintop
The moment the veep decided to fix his aimless life
AUGUST 31--In his new memoir, Dick Cheney recalls the exact moment he decided to “fundamentally change my ways” and correct the “self-destructive path I was on.” No, this revelation did not occur during his second term as George W. Bush’s vice president, but rather when Cheney, then 22, woke up with a hangover in a Wyoming jail in July 1963.
Cheney had been busted in Rock Springs for drunk driving, his second such collar in less than a year. In November 1962 he was arrested in Cheyenne for “operating motor vehicle while intoxicated and drunkenness.”
Specific details of those Cheney collars have been lost with time, though TSG was able to locate a “Police Court Docket” for the Cheyenne case, which resulted in a 30-day suspension of Cheney’s drivers license and forfeiture of $150 bail. A Rock Springs Police Department document shows that the second case ended with Cheney’s payment of a $100 fine.
At the time of his arrests, Cheney worked on a crew building electrical transmission lines in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. The future politician was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and, after work, would “spend considerable time in one of the local bars,” where he and his union brothers “consumed vast quantities of beer.” And, “if something stronger was called for,” the bourbon came out.
It was the deadly bourbon and beer combo, Cheney noted, that “helps explain how I managed to get arrested twice within a year for driving while under the influence.” While he brushed off the first bust, the second arrest “was a different matter.” Cheney realized that, “if I didn’t fundamentally change my ways, I was going to come to a bad end.”
As he tells it, Cheney departed the Rock Springs lockup and drove home to Casper, where he spent the better part of a day atop Casper Mountain reflecting on the “self-destructive path I was on.”
When Cheney came down from the mountaintop, he had resolved to clean up his act. He started by moving out of the apartment he shared with a similarly hard-partying coworker. “I’m going to make something of my life,” Cheney announced to his roomie, who was not pleased with his pal. “Who in the hell do you think you are? You’re no better than the rest of us,” the man purportedly replied.
Cheney added that he never spoke again to his drinking buddy. (2 pages)