Dick Cheney's heart condition was so bad at the beginning of the Bush administration's time in office that the former Vice President drafted up his own resignation letter just under 70 days after taking office. That letter, Cheney explained in an interview to "60 Minutes" on Sunday, was something of a failsafe in case he was incapacitated — but not killed — by his disease.
Dick Cheney: Basically, what I did was I resigned the vice presidency effective March 28, 2001.
Sanjay Gupta: So nearly, for your entire time as vice president, there was a letter of resignation sitting there.
Dick Cheney: Pending.
Sanjay Gupta: Pending.
Dick Cheney: It says, "In accordance with Section 20 of Title Three of the United States code, I, Richard B. Cheney, hereby resign the office of Vice President of the United States...
Sanjay Gupta: How did President Bush react when you told him about this?
Dick Cheney: A little surprised. But he thought it was a good idea.
That's just one of a handful of kind of bonkers details in the interview — the other big one was Cheney going all Homeland and getting a defibrillator disabled because he was worried terrorists would hack it and kill him. Cheney's heart troubles are so sustained that the former VP wrote the new book he's promoting, called Heart, with his cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Cheney had his first heart attack at 37, and has had five total. Last year, he had a heart transplant at age 71.
Cheney also got a bit prickly during the "60 Minutes" interview when Sanjay Gupta asked him about a 2000 medical opinion by a famous heart doctor, who told the Bush campaign that Cheney had "normal cardiac function:"
Sanjay Gupta: How were they able to say that you were able to do the job?
Dick Cheney: The way I look at it Sanjay is that first of all, I didn't seek the job. The president came to me and asked me to be his vice president. The party nominated me. The doctors that consulted on it reached a common conclusion and the people elected me. Now what basis do I override the decision making process? Do you want to have an offshoot where we come check with Sanjay Gupta and say, "Gee, is he up to the task?" That's not the way it works.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.