"And the same to your lovely children"

"Can you imagine that phone call, Cheney calling Edwards? (Laughing.) Boy, would I have loved to have heard that phone call. (Laughing.)"
– Rush Limbaugh, July 6, 2004

(The time: The morning of July 6, 2004. The place: The private quarters of John Edwards. The phone rings.)

Operator: Vice President Cheney on the line. Please hold to go fuck yourself.

(There is a moment of silence on the line.)

Edwards: (Whistles absent-mindedly.)

Cheney: Hello? Is this John Edwards?

Edwards: Mr. Vice President, good mornin'. To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?

Cheney: Senator Edwards, I just heard the news on the radio. And I wanted to be the first to ring you up and say, "Congratulations." And to tell you to go fuck yourself.

Edwards: (Laughing delightedly) Why, thank you, Mr. Vice President. Senator Kerry told me I should be expectin' a call like this from you.

Cheney: I'd suppose he did. Senator, I just want to say how pleased and excited I am that you're in this race. Now that both of our teams are in place, I'm looking forward to an election season we can all be proud of. I know you've been on this "positive campaigning" tack, and I really think you might have something there. I'm hoping that the next four months are going to be full of passionate politics, good sportsmanship and a spirited exchange of views. And self-fucking.

Edwards: Me too, Mr. Vice President.

Cheney: I've been watching you, my boy, and I see what a rising star you've been in that party of yours. Now I've known a candidate or two in my day. And to be totally honest, I don't think the Democrats have had a veep candidate with so much moxie to tap in many a moon. Maybe not since JFK had Johnson. (Momentarily lost in reverie.) Johnson ... now there was a guy who really knew how to go fuck himself.

Edwards: He was an inspiration to a lot of Americans, I think.

Cheney: Sure, sure.

Edwards: Mr. Vice President, I appreciate your openness and your good wishes. And seein' that this may be the last time we have to talk like this – y'know, man-to-manwhoshouldgofuckhimself – I was just wonderin' if I could ask you a question.

Cheney: Gofuckyourself right ahead.

Edwards: How do you do it, this national-campaign thing? I'm just gettin' started, and I'm already wonderin' where I'm gonna find time for my family, what with all the flyin' around I'm gonna have to do. And the shakin' hands with crippled veterans at church suppers. And gettin' those crows' feet surgically implanted so I stop lookin' so darn much like Michael J. Fox.

Cheney: It's a great question, Senator. If I may be so bold, you're coming to the font on this one. Sometimes I think I've been on the GOP party trail since nobody loved Dobie Gillis!

Edwards: (Mystified silence.)

Cheney: Forget it, it doesn't matter one way or the other. Here's what my advice is: You have to get tough. You've got to draw a line in the sand. Take those campaign managers, pushy interns and hangers-on who are always tugging on your coattails, and look them square in the eye. Tell them your private time is precious. Let them know you've got to have at least an hour a day to be a man and not just a vote-grabbing machine. Otherwise, you're going to wake up one morning in a strange hotel room and realize that you no longer even have a "yourself" to go fuck.

Edwards: Wise words, sir, wise words. I'm sure not lookin' forward to comin' up against that kind of superior reason in our debate. (Laughs.)

Cheney: (Chuckling conspiratorially.) Hey, as long as we've got our guard down, want to hear part of the script Rove has been working up for me? (Clears throat.) "Go ... "

Edwards: (Roaring.) Hold up, hold up, Mr. Vice President! I think I know where you're goin' with that one!

Cheney: (Laughs.) I bet you do! (Sighs, wipes away tear.) Ah, good times. Seriously, though, you take that advice I gave you to heart. I remember when my daughter, Mary, was still in kindergarten. I used to put her on my knee and tell her how this crazy world works. I'd tell her to always stay true to her basic principles. And to love her God with all her might, and to never doubt the moral authority of the good old U. S. of A. You know what she'd say? "Thanks, Dad! You're the smartest, nicest guy in the world!" Then we'd both run off to the backyard and play Hide and Go Fuck Yourself.

Edwards: Come to think of it, Mr. Vice President, it's kind of funny how that all turned out, isn't it?

Cheney: Come again?

Edwards: Well – and I mean this purely politically, of course – but lookin' back with 20/20 hindsight, it wasn't what she was doin' with herself that you had to watch out for, was it? (Chuckles.)

Cheney: (Silence.)

Edwards: I'm sorry, Mr. Vice President. That was uncalled for.

Cheney: Don't worry about it. I hear it from Ashcroft all the time.

(There is an intrusion on the line.)

Operator: Mr. Vice President? You have an incoming call on Line Two.

Cheney: (Politely.) Thank you, Arlene. Hey, Arlene, have I told you to go fuck yourself today?

Operator: No, sir.

Cheney: Then by all means, do.

Operator: Thank you, sir.

Cheney: (To Edwards.) Senator, looks like I've got to run. I've got Leahy on the other line.

Edwards: Mr. Vice President?

Cheney: Yes?

Edwards: (Snarkily.) Why don't you tell him to go take a flying flip?

Cheney: Needs work, kid, needs work. See you in the purple states.

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