Washington – At Monday’s annual White House Christmas party, Vice President Dick Cheney surprised no one when he gave everyone on his gift list a block of enriched uranium. Enriched uranium is a vital component of nuclear weaponry. According to several people on Mr. Cheney’s list, he has given enriched uranium for the past five Christmases. He has not revealed publicly where the uranium was obtained, or when.
But some on Mr. Cheney’s list have grown tired of the gift, and would prefer something else. “I mean, every year it’s uranium. Uranium, uranium, uranium,” said a friend of Cheney’s who spoke on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to discuss the gifts he received from the vice president. “How much uranium can you put on the mantelpiece? I have pictures of my kids I want to put up. How about a picture frame, Mr. Vice President? How about anything other than uranium?”
And apparently, Christmas is not the only occasion for which Mr. Cheney will give the gift of uranium. When Mr. Cheney visited King Abdullah bin Abdul Al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia in 2007, he presented him with a block of enriched uranium. A stunned King Abdullah said simply, “Thanks.” Mr. Cheney has also given uranium as a wedding gift, a birthday gift and for the baptism of a friend’s child.
But the vice president defended his gift-giving. “No one has complained to me,” Cheney said. “And I think if you saw the reaction, the looks on the faces of people when I give them the uranium – after they put on the protective gloves, of course – you wouldn’t doubt how overjoyed they are to receive it as a gift. People love it. They can’t get it at Macy’s. They can’t go buy it. So it’s unique. It’s a great gift. Trust me. Rumsfeld used to give me plutonium every year, and I can assure you, I loved it each and every time.”
“It’s not that I don’t appreciate the uranium, the thought behind it. I do,” the friend continued. “All I’m saying is that there are plenty of other gifts. For instance, we gave Dick and Lynne opera tickets this year. Isn’t that nice? Opera tickets? I think that’s a very nice gift. You know why? You can go watch it. It’s pleasurable. It’s a nice experience. What do you do with uranium? Sit on your couch and admire it? Call in the family, ‘Hey kids, let’s gather round and look at the uranium again’? No. I think not.”