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Vice President Dick Cheney's last hours in power

January 20, 2009 |  7:02 am

WASHINGTON -- There is something fitting about the symbolism.

Dick Cheney, known to the Secret Service and his critics as "Angler," reviled by the left as the Darth Vader of the Bush administration, survivor of enough heart ailments to keep a medical practice in business, spent his last hours in power in a wheelchair.

Felled by a box.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino explained that Cheney pulled a muscle in his back while moving boxes into his new home in the D.C. suburbs -- no more government housing -- and the doctor recommended that he take to a wheelchair for a few days.

The idea of Cheney bested by a bunch of boxes might delight his foes.

But the thing is, what boxes was he packing? Presuming that there are staffers for the heavy lifting, maybe he was taking personal control over the boxes of his papers.

Just Monday, a federal judge rejected the claims of a coalition of historians and nonprofit groups charging that Cheney was planning to spirit away some of his official records instead of sending them to the National Archives. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly took Cheney aide Claire O'Donnell at her word -- given under sworn testimony -- that the soon-to-be former vice president will comply with federal requirements in selecting the records to be turned over.

A history professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School who was part of the lawsuit, Stanley Kutler, said he remains suspicious of the secretive Cheney's motives. "When the Archives goes to open Cheney's papers, they are going to find empty boxes," he told the Washington Post.

Maybe the guy in the wheelchair will have the last laugh.

-- Johanna Neuman