(All answers preserved intact. Brit Hume's questions turned Jules from Pulp Fiction.) Brit Hume... take notes...
Q. Mr. Vice President, how is the sucka that gotcho' shotgun facial?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the good news is he's doing very well today. I talked to him yesterday after they discovered the heart problem, but it appears now to have been pretty well resolved and the reporting today is very good.
Q. And whattsa motherfucka ta say about dat?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's a great relief. But I won't be, obviously, totally at ease until he's home. He's going to be in the hospital, apparently, for a few more days, and the problem, obviously, is that there's always the possibility of complications in somebody who is 78-79 years old. But he's a great man, he's in great shape, good friend, and our thoughts and prayers go out to he and his family.
Q. You really know this cat, or you just frontin' familiarity in the face of disaster?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I first met him in Vail, Colorado, when I worked for Gerry Ford about 30 years ago, and it was the first time I'd ever hunted with him.
Q. I said "did you know him!" You either saw him around the Safeway every now and then or you hooked up for a J and a night of The Chappelle Show. Which is it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, an acquaintance.
Q. So, how'd the shit go down with yo' "acquaintance?"
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, basically, we were hunting quail late in the day –
Q. Slow down, motherfucka! Most folks don't go motherfuckin' quail huntin' as a hobby. Tell the people how it was!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's in south Texas, wide-open spaces, a lot of brush cover, fairly shallow. But it's wild quail. It's some of the best quail hunting anyplace in the country. I've gone there, to the Armstrong ranch, for years. The Armstrongs have been friends for over 30 years. And a group of us had hunted all day on Saturday –
Q. What's the sizadat crew?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, probably 10 people. We weren't all together, but about 10 guests at the ranch. There were three of us who had gotten out of the vehicle and walked up on a covey of quail that had been pointed by the dogs. Covey is flushed, we've shot, and each of us got a bird. Harry couldn't find his, it had gone down in some deep cover, and so he went off to look for it. The other hunter and I then turned and walked about a hundred yards in another direction –
Q. So yo' "acquaintance" can't find his bird and ya'all just amble off inta da brush, leavin' him ta face da badlands by his own bad self--
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Away from him – where another covey had been spotted by an outrider. I was on the far right –
Q. So, waitaminute, ya went off with some other dude, just you and him, right?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Just two of us at that point. The guide or outrider between us, and of course, there's this entourage behind us, all the cars and so forth that follow me around when I'm out there – but bird flushed and went to my right, off to the west. I turned and shot at the bird, and at that second, saw Harry standing there. Didn't know he was there –
Q. Ya capped the bitch when he showed up?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I saw him fall, basically. It had happened so fast.
Q. What kinda threads he have on? He dressed in feathers, struttin' around, actin' all quail-like or what?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He was dressed in orange, he was dressed properly, but he was also – there was a little bit of a gully there, so he was down a little ways before land level, although I could see the upper part of his body when – I didn't see it at the time I shot, until after I'd fired. And the sun was directly behind him – that affected the vision, too, I'm sure.
But the image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling. And it was, I'd have to say, one of the worst days of my life, at that moment.
Q. Worse then whenya took a job workin' for the alcoholic son of the dude who ya used ta be pals with, or worse then when ya started a war for reasons that turned out jive? How worse, bitch?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we went over to him, obviously, right away –
Q. What we he... miles away? Ya shot the man with a motherfuckin shotgun, the spray only goes so far!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm guessing about 30 yards, which was a good thing. If he'd been closer, obviously, the damage from the shot would have been greater.
Q. Yeah, that sucka been like, in the backseat of a car you was drivin' it woulda been way worse, trust me.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: – part of the shot. He was struck in the right side of his face, his neck and his upper torso on the right side of his body.
Q. And ya'all like, "that ain't not motherfuckin' bird, damn!"
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I have no idea. I mean, you focused on the bird, but as soon as I fired and saw Harry there, everything else went out of my mind. I don't know whether the bird went down, or didn't.
Q. You at least do some CPR and shit?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ran over to him and –
Q. And ya see ya shot a cracka...
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He was laying there on his back, obviously bleeding. You could see where the shot had struck him. And one of the fortunate things was that I've always got a medical team, in effect, covering me wherever I go. I had a physician's assistant with me that day. Within a minute or two he was on the scene administering first-aid. And –
Q. And Cracka be all unconscious and shit, like Wilson on the Jeffersons...
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He was conscious –
Q. Say what? One tough cracka, belie' dat.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I said, "Harry, I had no idea you were there." And –
Q. Bet he called ya all kindsa names.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He didn't respond. He was – he was breathing, conscious at that point, but he didn't – he was, I'm sure, stunned, obviously, still trying to figure out what had happened to him. The doc was fantastic –
Q. Were you all like, "I blew this po' cracka's face off!" or what?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I had no idea how serious it was going to be. I mean, it could have been extraordinarily serious. You just don't know at that moment. You know he's been struck, that there's a lot of shot that had hit him. But you don't know – you think about his eyes. Fortunately, he was wearing hunting glasses, and that protected his eyes. You – you just don't know. And the key thing, as I say, initially, was that the physician's assistant was right there. We also had an ambulance at the ranch, because one always follows me around wherever I go. And they were able to get the ambulance there, and within about 30 minutes we had him on his way to the hospital.
Q. So that's when ya called "The Wolf" and had things taken care of, right?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I had – I told my physician's assistant to go with him, but the ambulance is crowded and they didn't need another body in there. And so we loaded up and went back to ranch headquarters, basically. By then, it's about 7:00 p.m. at night. And Harry –
Q. Were ya'all, "You breathin' bitch? Breathe!"
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we're getting reports, but they were confusing. Early reports are always wrong. The initial reports that came back from the ambulance were that he was doing well, his eyes were open. They got him into the emergency room at Kingsville –
Q. Now, that guy ya shot fo' no reason looked yo' heart-disease ass right in the eyes, didn't he?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes. One eye was open. But they got him in the emergency room in the small hospital at Kingsville, checked him out further there, then lifted him by helicopter from there into Corpus Christi, which has a big city hospital and all of the equipment.
Q. And where you gotta be next? You a big swingin' dick, after all. You ain't got time fo' this shit!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't have an exact time line, although he got there sometime that evening, 8:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m.
Q. So where was he while you bribin' Saudis and shit?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I would say he was in Kingsville in the emergency room probably within, oh, less than an hour after they left the ranch.
Q. Now, you hunt quail enough ta know that a quail don't look like no Texas lawyer--
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I am, well, for the last 12, 15 years.
Q. So if you so good an huntin' how is it ya shootta guy and not a bird? I could understand mistakin' a person fo' a deer... a deer's got personality...
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry. And you can talk about all of the other conditions that existed at the time, but that's the bottom line. And there's no – it was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. And I say that is something I'll never forget.
Q. Friend? Fucka, ya just called him an "acquaintance!" This ain't how ya make friends. Didja plan on shootin' the sucka this weekend o' what?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, the way – this is a big ranch, about 50,000 acres. You cover a lot of territory on a quail hunt. Birds are oftentimes – you're looking for coveys. And these are wild quail, they're not pen-raised. And you hunt them – basically, you have people out on horseback, what we call outriders, who are looking for the quail. And when they spot them, they've got radios, you'll go over, and say, get down and flush the quail. So you need –
Q. So you so bad at killin' a quail with a shotgun that you got guys on horses who like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid ta chase the suckas away?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, usually you'll be, you know, maybe a few hundred yards. Might be farther than that; could be a quarter of a mile.
Q. So, ya at least hike, right? Just ta give the birds a damned chance?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, you always – in that part of the country, you always are on vehicles, until you get up to where the covey is. Then you get off – there will be dogs down, put down; the dogs will point to covey. And then you walk up on the covey. And as the covey flushes, that's when you shoot.
Q. Was you poundin' foties' o' what?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. You don't hunt with people who drink. That's not a good idea. We had –
Q. Someone hadta ta have pounded a damn fotie' o' we wouldn't be talkin'.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Correct. We'd taken a break at lunch – go down under an old – ancient oak tree there on the place, and have a barbecue. I had a beer at lunch. After lunch we take a break, go back to ranch headquarters. Then we took about an hour-long tour of ranch, with a ranch hand driving the vehicle, looking at game. We didn't go back into the field to hunt quail until about, oh, sometime after 3:00 p.m.
The five of us who were in that party were together all afternoon. Nobody was drinking, nobody was under the influence.
Q. I betcho' ass was all preoccupied with the New York Times and shit afta ya capped a man.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, my first reaction, Brit, was not to think: I need to call the press. My first reaction is: My friend, Harry, has been shot and we've got to take care of him. That evening there were other considerations. We wanted to make sure his family was taken care of. His wife was on the ranch. She wasn't with us when it happened, but we got her hooked up with the ambulance on the way to the hospital with Harry. He has grown children; we wanted to make sure they were notified, so they didn't hear on television that their father had been shot. And that was important, too.
But we also didn't know what the outcome here was going to be. We didn't know for sure what kind of shape Harry was in. We had preliminary reports, but they wanted to do a CAT scan, for example, to see how – whether or not there was any internal damage, whether or not any vital organ had been penetrated by any of the shot. We did not know until Sunday morning that we could be confident that everything was probably going to be okay.
Q. Didja tell his family upfront o' didja not wanna mess with dat shit. A widow'll capya, after all.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, his wife – his wife knew as he was leaving the ranch –
Q. Aw yeah, "leavin'." Bet she thought it was in the limo that brung him. And you betta had steer clear of the kids.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I didn't make the calls to his children, so I don't know exactly when those contacts were made. One of his daughters had made it to the hospital by the next day when I visited. But one of the things I'd learned over the years was first reports are often wrong and you need to really wait and nail it down. And there was enough variation in the reports we were getting from the hospital, and so forth – a couple of people who had been guests at the ranch went up to the hospital that evening; one of them was a doctor, so he obviously had some professional capabilities in terms of being able to relay messages. But we really didn't know until Sunday morning that Harry was probably going to be okay, that it looked like there hadn't been any serious damage to any vital organ. And that's when we began the process of notifying the press.
Q. And you tellin' me that even after you tried spyin' on Americans, and it turned inta a story, and ya tried lettin' CEF'inOs of every companies write policy and it became a fuckin' story, that you didn't think shootin' a man in the motherfuckin' face would be a motherfuckin' story? C'mon!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, true, it was unprecedented. I've been in the business for a long time and never seen a situation quite like this. We've had experiences where the President has been shot; we've never had a situation where the Vice President shot somebody.
Q. Ya got all "Aaron Burr" on that sucka's ass.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Not since Aaron Burr –
Q. But it ain't like the honky you shot tried ta form the first national bank that would eventually become our Federal Reserve, was it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Different circumstances.
Q. Didn't yo' mama ever tell ya ta fess up quick when ya do wrong?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, if it's accurate. If it's accurate. And this is a complicated story.
Q. But there it's not as if ya doubted ya'd shot the guy. Do ya not know whetha you fucked a bitch or not? Then why you treatin' this lawyer you shot like a bitch?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Correct.
Q. But, what, you though people would keep "The Vice President Just Shot a Guy" a secret?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: As we saw, if we'd put out a report Saturday night on what we heard then – one report came in that said, superficial injuries. If we'd gone with a statement at that point, we'd have been wrong. And it was also important, I thought, to get the story out as accurately as possible, and this is a complicated story that, frankly, most reporters would never have dealt with before, so –
Q. But you told the Prez, right?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I did not. The White House was notified, but I did not discuss it directly, myself. I talked to Andy Card, I guess it was Sunday morning.
Q. So, what? You was hopin' the Prez don't watch the news?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q. AButcha got Karl Rove onnit, right? That's the man with the plan.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, Karl talks to – I don't recall talking to Karl. Karl did talk with Katherine Armstrong, who is a good mutual friend to both of us. Karl hunts at the Armstrong, as well –
Q. Say what?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I said Karl has hunted at the Armstrong, as well, and we're both good friends of the Armstrongs and of Katherine Armstrong. And Katherine suggested, and I agreed, that she would go make the announcement, that is that she'd put the story out. And I thought that made good sense for several reasons. First of all, she was an eyewitness. She'd seen the whole thing. Secondly, she'd grown up on the ranch, she'd hunted there all of her life. Third, she was the immediate past head of the Texas Wildlife and Parks Department, the game control commission in the state of Texas, an acknowledged expert in all of this.
And she wanted to go to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, which is the local newspaper, covers that area, to reporters she knew. And I thought that made good sense because you can get as accurate a story as possible from somebody who knew and understood hunting. And then it would immediately go up to the wires and be posted on the website, which is the way it went out. And I thought that was the right call.
Q. You musta felt likea dumbass.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I still do. I still think that the accuracy was enormously important. I had no press person with me, I didn't have any press people with me. I was there on a private weekend with friends on a private ranch. In terms of who I would contact to have somebody who would understand what we're even talking about, the first person that we talked with at one point, when Katherine first called the desk to get hold of a reporter didn't know the difference between a bullet and a shotgun – a rifle bullet and a shotgun. And there are a lot of basic important parts of the story that required some degree of understanding. And so we were confident that Katherine was the right one, especially because she was an eyewitness and she could speak authoritatively on it. She probably knew better than I did what had happened since I'd only seen one piece of it.
Q. So, next day, ya called the sucka you capped, right?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The next morning I talked to his wife. And then I went to the hospital in Corpus Christi and visited with him.
Q. You get up early ta make the call, at least?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, it was shortly after noon on Sunday.
Q. And you be sweatin' the press! They get wind?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I believe it had. I can't remember what time Katherine actually talked to the reporter. She had trouble that morning actually finding a reporter. But they finally got connected with the reporter, and that's when the story then went out.
Q. And you gotta belie' dat when suckas talk, other suckas talk. This shit be like a sewing circle.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, sure.
Q. So ya coulda come clean, quick, right?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, who is going to do that? Are they going to take my word for what happened? There is obviously –
Q. Wait, you the Vice President and ta think folks won't believe ya? That some sad shit. So you got some otha folk ta tell it, huh?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Exactly. That's what we did. We went with Mrs. Armstrong. We had – she's the one who put out the statement. And she was the most credible one to do it because she was a witness. It wasn't me in terms of saying, here's what happened, it was –
Q. Makes it seem like you was tryin' ta make it look like you hadn't just shotta dude in the face.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There wasn't any way this was going to be minimized, Brit; but it was important that it be accurate. I do think what I've experienced over the years here in Washington is as the media outlets have proliferated, speed has become sort of a driving force, lots of time at the expense of accuracy. And I wanted to make sure we got it as accurate as possible, and I think Katherine was an excellent choice. I don't know who you could get better as the basic source for the story than the witness who saw the whole thing.
Q. And so, ya call Andy Card, right? When? Rove in the shitter or somethin'?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sometime Sunday morning.
Q. And then you gotta tell Big E Tallz, right? The Prez?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I talked to him about it yesterday, or Monday – first on Monday, and then on Tuesday, too.
Q. And you let that honky Scott Mclellan take the heat. Hey, that's what a honky fo'!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Scott does a great job and it's a tough job. It's especially a tough job under these conditions and circumstances. I had a bit of the feeling that the press corps was upset because, to some extent, it was about them – they didn't like the idea that we called the Corpus Christi Caller-Times instead of The New York Times. But it strikes me that the Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times is, especially for covering a major story in south Texas.
Q. Aww, yeah, it just South Texas. Ain't Iraq or nothin'.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I had no press person with me, no coverage with me, no White House reporters with me. I'm comfortable with the way we did it, obviously. You can disagree with that, and some of the White House press corps clearly do. But, no, I've got nothing but good things to say about Scott McClellan and Dan Bartlett. They've got a tough job to do and they do it well. They urged us to get the story out. The decision about how it got out, basically, was my responsibility.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That was my call.
Q. All on you, bro.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: All the way. It was recommended to me – Katherine Armstrong wanted to do it, as she said, and I concurred in that; I thought it made good sense.
Q. Now, you talkin' ta me. Today. Much later then what ya popped da bitch.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wednesday.
Q. What about two days ago? Ya had some ho over?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, part of it obviously has to do with the status of Harry Whittington. And it's a difficult subject to talk about, frankly, Brit. But most especially I've been very concerned about him and focused on him and feel more comfortable coming out today because of the fact that his circumstances have improved, he's gotten by what was a potential crisis yesterday, with respect to the developments concerning his heart. I think this decision we made, that this was the right way to do it.
Q. He musta slapped yo' pasty face.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He's been fantastic. He's a gentleman in every respect. He oftentimes expressed more concern about me than about himself. He's been in good spirits, unfailingly cheerful –
Q. He didn't dropya like it's hot?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, when I first saw him in the hospital, for example, he said, look, he said, I don't want this to create problems for you. He literally was more concerned about me and the impact on me than he was on the fact that he'd been shot. He's a – I guess I'd describe him as a true Texas gentleman, a very successful attorney, successful businessman in Austin; a gentleman in every respect of the word. And he's been superb.
Q. You say this a bad day. Seriously?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: What happened to my friend as a result of my actions, it's part of this sudden, you know, in less than a second, less time than it takes to tell, going from what is a very happy, pleasant day with great friends in a beautiful part of the country, doing something I love – to, my gosh, I've shot my friend. I've never experienced anything quite like that before.
Q. You learn the difference between a bird and a person at least?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I can't say that. You know, we canceled the Sunday hunt. I said, look I'm not – we were scheduled to go out again on Sunday and I said I'm not going to go on Sunday, I want to focus on Harry. I'll have to think about it.
Q. Some folks say you less a hazzard playin' dominos. The pizza.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's brought me great pleasure over the years. I love the people that I've hunted with and do hunt with; love the outdoors, it's part of my heritage, growing up in Wyoming. It's part of who I am. But as I say, the season is ending, I'm going to let some time pass over it and think about the future.
Q. Hey, while I gotcha... you spyin' on my hood or what?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's nothing I can talk about, Jules. This is an issue that's been under investigation for a couple of years. I've cooperated fully, including being interviewed, as well, by a special prosecutor. All of it is now going to trial. Scooter is entitled to the presumption of innocence. He's a great guy. I've worked with him for a long time, have enormous regard for him. I may well be called as a witness at some point in the case and it's, therefore, inappropriate for me to comment on any facet of the case.
Q. And you get ta say what getsd said about what?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There is an executive order to that effect.
Q. Dumb cracka letchu do dat?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q. And you done it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order –
Q. You ever done it unilaterally? I done it bilaterally once with these two hot shorties...
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President, but also includes the Vice President.
Q. Seems ta me dat when ya want it, yo' ship be leaky as the Titannic.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There clearly has been damage done.
Q. Where you gone wrong?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to get into just sort of ranking them, then you get into why is one more damaging than the other. One of the problems we have as a government is our inability to keep secrets. And it costs us, in terms of our relationship with other governments, in terms of the willingness of other intelligence services to work with us, in terms of revealing sources and methods. And all of those elements enter into some of these leaks.
Q. Mr. Vice President, I gotta say, in closing...
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Brit.