Stephen Hayes, Author of New Book About the V.P. Shares his Insights

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 27, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Recently Sean and I sat down with author Stephen Hayes to talk about his book, "Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President."


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Thirty hours you spent with the vice president, one of the most powerful guys for many decades in Washington; one of the most secretive. How did you get such access?

STEPHEN HAYES, AUTHOR, "CHENEY": I think it was a combination of pestering and harassment. I just kept calling and saying, "Listen, this book hasn't been written, and it needs to be written." I mean, nobody has actually spent that much time.

He served not only in government, but really at the highest levels of government for the better part of four decades.

HANNITY: What did you learn, if you had to pick, maybe, two or three things about him that maybe the public doesn't know?

HAYES: Well, I think he's much more of a normal guy than average people would think. I mean, he's easy to sort of sit across the room from and talk to. And he has regular conversations with you.

Now, he does have, I will say, you know, this sort of terse and clipped language that he uses when he gives interviews. He's totally comfortable in doing that, you know, even in an interview when somebody writing a biography of him. And he doesn't have the need, like most politicians, to fill sort of empty spaces.

Most politicians, you ask them a question, they'll keep talking until you ask another one, as you guys know. But Cheney doesn't. He'll answer a question with one word and then sit there and look at you, which is sort of disarming.

HANNITY: You know, if you look at the debate he had, the couple of debates that he had when he was vice president. At critical moments he's just very reserved. He sets the tone, period. And he goes at his speed.

Let me ask you a little bit here. He wanted up front an agreement with the president that he was going to have a lot of influence, because traditionally vice presidents do not. And you bring us behind the scenes a little bit in that.

HAYES: Yes, it was fascinating. What a lot of people don't know is that President Bush, then Governor Bush, had actually been looking at Cheney as a potential running mate as early as November of 1999.


HAYES: What happened was Cheney came down for these policy meetings, and Bush liked what he said in the policy meetings. But more importantly, he liked the body language of the rest of the people in these policy meetings.

You know, some of the big thinkers in the Republican foreign policy and defense national security policy. And they all would stop and listen when Cheney talked. And the president told me, “That made me pay attention when these smart people paid attention to him that way.”

HANNITY: Yes. He has this reputation for secrecy and he does not have a particular like of the news media. Why?

HAYES: Well, I think it's very interesting to look at the history of coverage of Dick Cheney, because up through 2000, until he became vice president, he had overwhelmingly positive media coverage. And people forget this about him, actually.

You had people, Mort Kondracke, who's on Brit's all-star panel. He wrote a piece in 1996 when Cheney was thinking about running for president, saying basically Cheney has no enemies in the Republican Party and he's well liked by the press.

Certainly different from the Dick Cheney we know now.

COLMES: Were you chosen for this because you're considered an ally? Is that why you got this kind of access?

HAYES: I'm sure it didn't hurt that I'd written positive things about Dick Cheney in the past.

COLMES: I could not have gotten this gig.

HAYES: Doubtful, doubtful. I want to be clear — there have been some early reports that suggest that I was, quote unquote, “hand picked.” Nobody approached me. Nobody came to me and said, “We'd like to you write this book about Dick Cheney.”

COLMES: ... The Nation as opposed to The Weekly Standard, the chance of this happening would probably have been...

HAYES: I think that's fair to say.

COLMES: All right. Does he like the Darth Vader image?

HAYES: You know, that's a great question. I think he does like that Darth Vader image. And there are things that he's done that seem almost meant to cultivate it.

He was asked about this in 2004 by a reporter from USA Today. And they asked him what about your reputation? Do you care that you're low on the polls and that you're thought of this way? And he said “You know, do I like being thought of as the evil genius in the hole? It's a nice way to operate,” is what he said.

COLMES: It came out of your book that he was very much against the ouster of Donald Rumsfeld, and had that question been asked during a particular interview, probably some news would have been made at that point. So you made it in the book?

HAYES: Yes. No, I think that's right. I mean, it was very interesting to listen to him talk about Don Rumsfeld who, of course, had been his friend and mentor for 30-plus years.

And I think I asked President Bush this question. Didn't the vice president disagree with the decision, essentially, to remove Don Rumsfeld? And President Bush essentially affirmed that.

COLMES: Do you think that Cheney was behind efforts to reveal that Joe Wilson's wife was a part of the CIA? And do you think there was retribution there on Cheney's part for Joe Wilson?

HAYES: Well, I mean, no, I don't think it was retribution. I don't think it was punishment. No, it seems from reading reports and looking at court documents, that he knew.

But I think the whole Joe Wilson story has been mis-told from the beginning. The narrative is actually totally wrong. If you're Vice President Cheney, all of a sudden you have a guy who comes in and says he's debunked these forged documents, that you somehow sent him on some trip and he's now running around telling everybody who will listen that he's debunked these forged documents.

But the key point in the Wilson saga is that he could not have debunked the forged documents. His trip was in February of 2002. The U.S. government received the documents in October of 2002. So it was a flat lie from the beginning.


COLMES: After which I said that's not true, in my view, because he was asked by the vice president's office to go, not by the vice president himself, by the way, and not by his wife.

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