Dick Cheney was an important man in politics long before assuming the vice presidency during the George W. Bush administration. And although he was technically only second-in-command in those years, many have called him the most powerful vice president ever. But 10 years after leaving office, Dick Cheney's life has changed a lot since he walked the halls of the White House.
Cheney didn't have a traditional path to politics. As a young man, he dropped out of Yale twice and was also charged with a string of DUIs. It was the latter that provided what he referred to as a "wake-up call" in an interview with Playboy. "I decided that I really needed to get my act together, and what I ended up doing was going back to school at the University of Wyoming," he told the magazine.
Cheney ultimately earned a Masters in political science from that university in 1966. From there, he turned to a full time life in politics. Four decades of his life and career are depicted in Adam McKay’s new movie Vice, which stars an unrecognizable Christian Bale as Cheney.
Early Political Career
Throughout his over 30 years in politics, Cheney held a number of important positions. Notably he broke into the political sphere in 1966 when he worked as an aide for former Wisconsin governor Warren Knowles, per CNN. The outlet reported that he then interned in Washington D.C. for former Wisconsin congressman William Steiger.
In the '70s, Cheney moved on to Richard Nixon's presidential administration as an assistant. Cheney also served as President Gerald Ford's chief of staff.
From there, he moved on to represent Wyoming for a decade as a congressman. In 1989, he was named Secretary of Defense for the George H. W. Bush administration.
Serving As VP
Cheney served as George W. Bush's vice president for eight years from 2001 to 2009. According to The Atlantic, during that time, he infamously pushed for the Iraq war, supported waterboarding, and helped influence the post-9/11 laws that allowed the U.S. to indefinitely detain foreign terrorism suspects without pressing charges or allowing them access to a fair trial by court.
He also made news by disagreeing with George W. Bush's stance on gay marriage in 2004, according to NBC News. Cheney — whose daughter Mary is gay — supported the LGBTQ+ community's right to enter into relationships of their choosing. Unlike Bush, he believed the power to determine marriage rights should lie with individual states and not a federal ruling.
In 2006, Cheney infamously accidentally shot a fellow quail hunter. According to CNN, 78-year-old Harry Whittington was hit by birdshot in his face and chest. Whittington didn't blame Cheney for the accident and made a full recovery, but it was a widely mocked moment of Cheney's VP career.
Life After Being VP
Since his VP tenure ended in 2009, Cheney has stayed involved in politics. In 2012, he campaigned for Mitt Romney's presidential run. He later frequently commented on Barack Obama's administration, often voicing his disagreements with how things were run.
Cheney also supported Trump's presidential run, though he hasn't shied away from criticizing Trump's views on immigrants.
In recent years, Cheney has written several books, including a memoir called In My Time. Among the topics it covered was Cheney's struggle with his health. In the book, he revealed that he's had five heart attacks. He had a heart transplant in 2012.
Cheney's most recent book is from 2015 and is called Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America. He co-wrote it with his daughter Liz Cheney. Liz now occupies her father's former Wyoming congressional seat.