Lynne Cheney on the Constitution -- Oct. 2, 2005

A weekly feature on This Week.


Our voice this week is Lynne Cheney. The vice president's wife has spent much of her professional life encouraging Americans to learn more about our history, and our Constitution is one of her passions too.

Lynne Cheney: Our Constitution, of course, is a very old and venerable document. What the document did, and does to this day, is give us a mechanism for expanding the ideas that have so inspired the whole world, to expand those ideas so that they include everyone. I've done Constitution Day for four or five years with George Washington, who is just spectacular.

Part of the reason kids don't study history as much as I'd like them to is because we're such a forward-looking people. You know, we're always thinking about tomorrow and not yesterday. So in a way it's part of our culture, but it is important that we try to look back -- because there are people in our history who have forced us to look back to the first principles of the Constitution and to see that they apply to everyone.

So I love to tell kids about the people who were involved. Sometimes I tell them about how different life was then. You know, people were late. The constitutional convention started, I think it was, 11 days late -- because roads were so bad, you couldn't count on being able to get across the creek.

I've written for children a long time. But then, when I had grandchildren, it seemed just a perfect way to talk to them about history, to write a book, you know.

They're not going to absorb it by osmosis. We have to teach the upcoming generation about, you know, the great founding documents. So freedom has been an effort from the beginning, and it will require our effort and the effort of upcoming generations for the United States to remain the great and free country that it is.


Late Night with Conan O'Brien:

O'Brien: In his speech earlier this week, President Bush asked Americans to conserve gas by stopping non-essential travel. Yeah, then the president flew to Hawaii to make the same speech.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Leno: And today, The New York Times reporter Judith Miller, she was released from jail. They had to release her to make room for Tom DeLay.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Stewart: So -- large protest, tiny counter protest. That should be the last word. No? No.

[Footage of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan being carried away by authorities.]

Stewart: Because yesterday came the counter, counter protest. Demonstrators gathered around the White House, including [Sheehan]. Yes, she's back. And Washington police converged swiftly on the group, making Cindy Sheehan the first of hundreds of arrests. She's smiling. You know what? I don't think she is being arrested. I think a Jewish wedding just broke out.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Leno: Something really odd happened at the Pentagon the other day as Donald Rumsfeld was briefing the [media]. See, I don't think the Pentagon has very good security. I am sorry to say this, but their security is not that good. Show what happened. Take a look.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [at press conference]: For four decades, Dick Myers has served. And for the past six years, he's been a powerful presence in the Department of Defense.

[Cut to "Osama bin Laden" peeking in through an emergency exit]

Leno: How did that guy get in there?

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Stewart: Everybody is excited: "Yeah man, Tom DeLay! We got that bastard, Whoo!" But what exactly did he do?

Ronnie Earle, district attorney of Travis County, Texas, [on tape]: Corporate money, which cannot be given to candidates in Texas, was sent to the Republican National Committee, where it was exchanged for money raised from individuals and then sent to those Texas legislative candidates.

Stewart: Oh man. That sounds a hair's breadth beyond the already arbitrary ethical line between legal and illegal in campaign finance. I'm … outraged? Is there a simpler explanation?

Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas [on tape]: It's like your brother-in-law sending you some money to take care of the rent.

Stewart: Whoa! Not only is it not illegal, it's quite generous.