Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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A question: How big is the Kenedy County Sheriff's Department? They rapidly concluded that "this was nothing more than a hunting accident."

But how big an outfit is it exactly? Kenedy County has a population of 414 people, which makes it the fourth smallest county in the United States.

The 50,000 acre Armstrong Ranch is in Kenedy County. So I figure the Armstrongs probably have a lot of pull in county government. So, just a question: how thorough was the investigation of what happened?

Here perhaps we're in need of some expert insight from hunters and doctors. But the latest round of news raises this question in my mind. Would the weapon and ammunition Dick Cheney shot have the force to imbed pellets near Whittington's heart at 30 yards? A hunter wears a decent amount of clothing over the chest, remember. So these pellets would have to have pierced his clothing, his skin and then lodged inside the body cavity, somewhere near or around his heart. The shot came from the right and the heart is on the left so that might add to the amount of tissue needing to be traversed -- but without more specifics that's hard to know for sure. That takes a decent amount of force at 30 yards. Any thoughts from our TPM hunters and clinicians?

As we've been telling you for a few weeks, now-former Ohio senate candidate Paul Hackkett was scheduled to be our guest this week at TPMCafe's Table for One. You've probably already heard that last night Hackett announced that he's dropping out of the race. He's got a post up at Table for One now explaining his decision to drop out.

Sometimes message is just really hard to formulate in real time. This AP story is running juxtaposed with news of Whittington's heart attack on many news sites ...

The White House has decided that the best way to deal with Vice President Dick Cheney's shooting accident is to joke about it.

President Bush's spokesman quipped Tuesday that the burnt orange school colors of the University of Texas championship football team that was visiting the White House shouldn't be confused for hunter's safety wear.

"The orange that they're wearing is not because they're concerned that the vice president may be there," joked White House press secretary Scott McClellan, following the lead of late-night television comedians. "That's why I'm wearing it."

The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, took a similar jab after slapping an orange sticker on his chest from the Florida Farm Bureau that read, "No Farmers, No Food."

You can read the rest of the piece here.

I'm not sure there'd be anything wrong with this if it's true. But this snippet from the latest piece on Harry Whittington struck me as curious ...

White House physicians who attended to Whittington at the scene after Cheney accidentally shot him were involved in the treatment, the officials said.

In context, the 'treatment' referred to seems to be the cardiac catheterization performed after the heart attack. So there's still a team of White House physicians treating Whittington.

Late Update: Not long after I ran this post the text of the graf above was changed to: "Banko said cardiologists at the hospital were consulting with White House doctors because the doctors had first treated Whittington after Cheney accidentally shot him on a Texas ranch."

You've probably already heard this. But Harry Whittington, the guy Dick Cheney shot in the hunting accident on Saturday, has had what the hospital is referring to as a 'minor heart attack'. Apparently one of the pellets from the shotgun blast migrated into the area of his heart and caused the cardiac event.

The details remain sketchy. But it's hard to have much confidence at this point that any of the information we're gettng (or have gotten) is complete, timely or accurate.

Like the headline to Paul Begala's post over at TPMCafe says, Dick Cheney sure is lucky that most of the reporters covering this story aren't reporters.

Here's a passage from a piece out from ABCNews ...

After difficulty getting information from Cheney's staff, ABC News learned from sources mostly outside the White House that the vice president's Secret Service contingent had notified the local sheriff an hour after the vice president accidentally shot prominent Texas lawyer Harry Whittington with a pellet gun while hunting for quail.

A pellet gun? Like when bad guys whack people with a sawed-off pellet gun? Please. A shotgun is not a 'pellet gun'. It's a shotgun.

As long as we're on the subject, where's Vice President Cheney? Is he appearing in public any time soon?

Details, from AP ...

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said that about an hour after Cheney shot Whittington, the head of the Secret Service's local office called the Kenedy County sheriff to report the accident. "They made arrangements at the sheriff's request to have deputies come out and interview the vice president the following morning at 8 a.m. and that indeed did happen," Zahren said.

At least one deputy showed up at the ranch's front gate later in the evening and asked to speak to Cheney but was turned away by the Secret Service, Zahren said. There was some miscommunication that arrangements had already been made to interview the vice president, he said.

Gilbert San Miguel, chief deputy sheriff for Kenedy County, said the report had not been completed Monday and that it was being handled as a hunting accident, although he would not comment about what that meant they were investigating.

He said his department's investigation had found that alcohol was not a factor in the shooting, but he would not elaborate about how that had been determined. The Texas Parks and Wildlife hunting accident report also said neither Cheney nor Whittington appeared to be under the influence of intoxicants or drugs.

All sounds pretty transparent, information flowing freely.

Terrible how some miscommunication led to that sheriff's deputy come to interview Cheney being turned away.