WASHINGTON — He shot his hunting partner, but Vice President Dick Cheney apparently doesn't fly fish with naked women.
Since Wednesday, the blogosphere has been atwitter over a photograph on the White House Web site of Cheney with a caption that said he was fly-fishing on the Snake River in Idaho.
The photo is a tight shot of Cheney's face sporting dark sunglasses and his trademark grin.
What's stirring all the buzz is the reflection in the vice president's dark glasses. Some thought that the reflection looked like a naked woman and, this being Cheney and this being the Internet Age, they immediately shared that thought with the world.
In a Google search for the words "Dick Cheney" and "sunglasses," 79,300 hits came back at mid-afternoon on Thursday. By 7 p.m., the count was 130,000.
On DemocraticUnderground.com, the discussion starts with this question: "Notice anything ... interesting ... reflected in his sunglasses? Something that has little to do with conventional 'fly-fishing'?"
It wasn't just the blogosphere. On a Web site called sportsshooter.com, dedicated to sports photography, professionals also did a double take and debated the shot on their message board.
"Naked woman??????? That explains his heart problems!!!" noted photographer Jason Frizzelle of Greenville, N.C.
"Holy crap! Is that what I think it is?" wrote one reader of the blog "A Welsh View."
"At first glance, I thought it was a naked woman as well," wrote Jody Gomez, a photographer from Murrietta, Calif. "However after close study and a second opinion ... I believe it's his arm." Others, including some White House staffers, saw the profile of a man's face and a cigar.
AOL's Political Machine online column gave readers a chance to vote on what was reflected in the vice presidential shades. The four choices were:
- Hot babe sunbathing.
- Alien overlord.
- That's not Dick Cheney.
- The image was Photoshopped.
The vice president's office saw little humor in the buzz.
"Clearly the picture shows a hand casting a rod," grumbled spokeswoman Meagan Mitchell.
As journalists, however, the word of an official spokeswoman isn't good enough.
So McClatchy/Tribune Information Services photo editor George Bridges used the latest digital technology to enlarge the picture, took a close look at Cheney's sunglasses and concluded that Mitchell was telling the truth.
The image is of the vice president's hand on his fly rod.
"In one lens of his sunglasses you can clearly tell it is a sleeved arm of Cheney or a fishing companion. The other lens has an extreme distortion that, without looking at it closely, could be misconstrued," said investigative photo editor Bridges.
ON THE WEB
Read what photographers are saying.