Vice presidents often express a fear they’ll be frozen out by the boss, cast off into an anonymous, icy orbit around the white hot White House. Not so for Vice President Joe Biden, who is said to enjoy a cozy relationship (and daily lunch) with President Obama.
Now, the science journal Nature reports that Biden’s proximity to presidential power inspired two astronomers to nickname a possible dwarf planet, “2012 VP113,” after him. “Biden,” they say, is “a great discovery,” even if it will never get closer than 7.46 billion miles to the Sun.
Indeed, it’s a great honor. One a lot of folks would like to have as their own. Here are a few that might be especially envious today:
NEWT GINGRICH - The former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate promised during the 2012 primary campaign that, by the end of a second term in office, “we will have the first permanent base on the Moon, and it will be American.”
“By the end of 2020,” he told an approving crowd of “Space Coast” Floridians, “we will have the first continuous propulsion system in space capable of getting to Mars in a remarkably short time, because I am sick of being told we have to be timid, and I’m sick of being told we have to be limited to technologies that are 50 years old.”
Gingrich, of course, did not get the nomination and his plans for exploration and expansion don’t get spoken about much these days.
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON – The guy loves science. He recently took part in a 2-hour panel discussion about the future of space exploration. The author of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier and host of “Cosmos” on Fox, deGrasse Tyson is pop culture’s most celebrated, attention-loving astrophysicist.
And yet, no planet.
VLADIMIR PUTIN – Crimea means a lot of very serious things to a lot of very serious people. Putin is obviously willing to pay a significant financial and diplomatic price to have it back inside Russian borders. Joe Biden, on the other hand, gets out of bed in the morning and does Joe Biden things, and what does he get? He gets a little planet named after him is what.
HILLARY CLINTON – “Planet Hillary” was a pretty big deal, but like so many stars, it burned bright and wild and totally out of control. That can’t be something a likely Democratic presidential candidate wants this long before the primary votes start piling up. For Hillary Clinton, a dark and remote dwarf planet that maybe doesn’t even exist probably sounds pretty good right now.
BUZZ ALDRIN & JOHN GLENN - John Glenn was an astronaut, then a U.S. Senator for a quarter century. The 92-year-old is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor (1978) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is a veteran of World War II and Korea.
The total number of planets named after him? Zero.
Buzz Aldrin is the second man to set foot on the moon. He flew 66 combat missions during the Korean War and lasted longer than Shannen Doherty on the 10th season of Dancing With the Stars. A star? No doubt.
So how many planets, no matter how small, have been given his name? None.
EVERYONE WHO’S EVER PAID TO “NAME A STAR” – Remember the commercials for “International Star Registry”, the company that’s named stars “for celebrities, dignitaries, royalty, and individuals just like you!” For all the folks who bit and made the call, put down the cash for their place in the “registry,” this has to be a bitter day.
ABC News’s Arlette Saenz contributed a great deal of emotional support in the making of this report. Literally.