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Ticket Replay: Biden talks Irish poetry, gets in a dig at Obama's teleprompters at Air Force Academy

As the holiday season unfolds, our thoughts on The Ticket turn to working not quite so hard for a few days. So we are re-publishing some of our favorite or most-read items from 2009. This item originally appeared on XXXXX.

On Tuesday, he did the economic recovery thing, touting the environmentally friendly jobs that President Obama's $787-billion stimulus package is creating.

Then, as the Ticket reported Tuesday, Vice President Biden stopped for lunch at M&D's Cafe in Denver, where owner Mack Shead ordered for him -- plates of barbecued catfish, fried green tomatoes, corn bread and lemonade.

Dessert came at the beginning of the meal, and it must have been sweet -- when Biden walked in, the lunchtime crowd broke into applause. He doesn't usually get that in Washington.

On leaving the restaurant, Biden walked across the street, where Willie Stull, 27, according to the Associated Press, told him "I got your back." Biden replied, "Good to know." 

Biden might have been thinking about Stull today when he gave the commencement address at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, Colo. Or maybe those folks in Colorado just worry about their backs.

In any event, telling the cadets that "this is your moment to bend history to the service of a better day," Biden told the graduates, "You will carry our skies and beyond on your backs ... I promise you ... we will have your back -- that is a guarantee."

He quoted Seamus Heaney in urging the Air Force's next generation to use the most of the opportunity, noting that while Senate colleagues used to tease him about his habit of quoting Irish poets all the time, he actually quoted them not because they were Irish but because they were the best.

Then, not content to leave without a jaunty ad lib, Biden noted that heavy winds were gusting through the ceremonies. One of his two teleprompters had toppled over. Alluding to the jokes of Obama's reliance on the speech-facilitators, Biden added, "What I am going to tell the president when I tell him his teleprompter is broken. What will he do then."

-- Johanna Neuman

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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