June 26, 2007 — -- A quick civics quiz: Is the vice president part of the executive branch? You might think the answer is obvious, but apparently not to Vice President Dick Cheney.
The man a heartbeat away from the Oval Office asserts that some rules that apply to everyone else in the executive branch do not apply to him.
Cheney has refused to comply with a request from the National Archives to hand over classified documents. The vice president's office insists that, unlike every other employee of the executive branch, that rule does not include him and his staff.
At a White House briefing, deputy press secretary Dana Perino was asked if the president believes Cheney is part of the executive branch.
"I think that's an interesting constitutional question, and I think that lots of people can debate it," Perino said.
So elusive is this vice president, the New Yorker magazine once ran a cartoon in which theologians debated the existence of Cheney.
"Perhaps next he will say he is not subject to the laws of gravity either. He will just float away to some undisclosed location," said Ana Marie Cox, the Washington editor of Time.com.
The vice president's noncompliance with the National Archives' request plays right into the widely caricatured idea that he is some sort of shadowy supervillain.
On Comedy Central's new show, "Lil' Bush," the character Lil' Cheney is the spawn of Darth Vader.
On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart casts Cheney as Batman's nemesis, the Penguin.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, one of Cheney's archenemies is now crafting a bill that would stop all funding for Cheney's office.
"He's acting as if he's unaccountable -- a whole fourth branch of government unto himself. So my view is if you're not in the executive branch we shouldn't fund you as the executive branch," Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., said.
Emanuel is set to introduce his bill this week. The vice president's spokeswoman accused Emanuel of "playing politics."