Open-government advocates say that Vice President Cheney is to executive branch secrecy what darkness is to the night.
In 2001, Cheney famously refused to disclose the names of oil company executives and others who attended meetings of a White House energy task force that he headed, which helped draft a national energy policy.
More recently, a government watchdog group has called attention to less noticed records that Cheney has sought to keep private: travel costs.
In a report this month, the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity said Cheney and his staff have sidestepped regulations that require annual reporting of travel expenses of more than $250 received from outside groups. The center, which focuses on ethics and public service issues, said previous vice presidents routinely disclosed such payments for lodging, travel and food when the veep and his staff made appearances at colleges, think tanks and trade associations.
Cheney's office says nothing is amiss. In three letters since 2002 to the Office of Government Ethics, which collects the travel reports, David S. Addington, then Cheney's general counsel, noted that the reporting requirement applies to the "head of each agency of the executive branch."
"The Office of the Vice President is not an 'agency of the executive branch,' and hence the reporting requirement does not apply," wrote Addington, who this month replaced I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby as Cheney's chief of staff.
The Sun King and the Prince of Darkness all in one corpulent, sneering container.