WASHINGTON – Vice President Dick Cheney (search) cursed at Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy during a confrontation on the Senate floor while members were having their annual group picture taken earlier this week, Leahy and Senate sources said Thursday.
Senate aides with knowledge of the encounter Tuesday said the vice president confronted Leahy about some of the Democrat's criticism about alleged improprieties in Iraq military contracts awarded to Halliburton Co. Cheney, who as vice president is president of the Senate, is a former CEO of Halliburton (search).
Leahy responded by criticizing the White House for standing by allies who had accused Democrats of being anti-Catholic last year in opposing one of President Bush's judicial nominees, said one Senate aide, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Cheney then responded, "F—- off" or "F—- you," the aide said.
That account was backed by another aide, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
Leahy, D-Vt., confirmed that the confrontation took place but would not provide details.
"I think he was just having a bad day," Leahy said. "I was kind of shocked to hear that kind of language on the floor."
Cheney's office also wouldn't go into detail, but confirmed the two men traded remarks.
"That doesn't sound like language that the vice president would use, but there was a frank exchange of views," said Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for Cheney.