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Cheney EKG? Media pulse quickening

New York Daily News | June 30, 2005

Did Vice President Cheney receive impromptu medical care Friday in the cardiac unit of a Colorado hospital?

I'm intrigued by the possibility, even though the veep's press secretary, Lea Anne McBride, yesterday told me the report - from liberal blogger Arianna Huffington - was "unequivocally false."

After Huffington said Friday night on her Web site, HuffingtonPost.com, that Cheney received an EKG at the Vail Valley Medical Center, Cheney's office and the hospital fielded a barrage of press calls.

Their responses were confusing, to say the least.

Initially hospital officials denied that Cheney - who'd been attending the American Enterprise Institute World Forum in nearby Beaver Creek - had even visited the the hospital.

Then the veep's office acknowledged to the Associated Press that Cheney indeed visited, but only to see prominent orthopedist Richard Steadman about a knee problem.

The local newspaper, the Vail Daily, characterized Cheney's visit as social, reporting that "he dropped by to say hi to his favorite knee doctor."

But Huffington - who was in town to speak to the Vail Valley Institute and spotted the veep's Gulfstream at the airport - reported: "The vice president did see Dr. Steadman. ... But he then proceeded to the cardiac unit of the center to see Dr. Jack Eck ... While there, Cheney had a prophylactic EKG."

McBride specifically denied to me that Cheney had gotten the EKG or seen Eck (who didn't return my phone call).

But a well-connected Lowdown spy told me that Cheney - whose knees were hurting from climbing stairs - received an EKG after medical personnel noted that his breathing was labored.

"That's pretty common at this high altitude," said the spy, a Vail resident, noting that the EKG was normal. "We're at 8,500 feet, and the air is pretty thin, which is hard if you're not used to it."

The spy told me hospital records indicated that the veep, surrounded by heavy security, was logged in as "Dr. Hoffman" (the name of his physician in Washington) and stayed for 2 hours and 41 minutes.

Cheney's flack insisted: "The vice president had an appointment with a renowned orthopedist in Vail to evaluate an old football injury."

Why do I feel like someone is pulling my leg.


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