HE SHOT his hunting partner, but Vice-President Dick Cheney apparently doesn't fly-fish with naked women.
Since Wednesday, the blogosphere has been a-twitter over a photograph on the White House website of Mr Cheney with a caption that said he was fly-fishing on the Snake River in Idaho.
The photo is a tight shot of Mr 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 immediately shared that thought with the world.
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 website 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, North Carolina. "At first glance I thought it was a naked woman as well," wrote Jody Gomez, a photographer from California. "However after close study and a second opinion … I believe it's his arm." Others, including some White House staff members, 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; and the image was Photoshopped.
The Vice-President's office saw little humour in the buzz.
"Clearly the picture shows a hand casting a rod," grumbled spokeswoman Meagan Mitchell.
For 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 Mr Cheney's sunglasses — and concluded that Ms Mitchell was telling the truth. The image is of the Vice-President's hand on his fly rod.
Mr Cheney reflects on the sights of Idaho's Snake River.
Click to view image: '172085-majcheney_narrowweb__300x1990.jpg'
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