THE DOCUMENTARY "The World According to Dick Cheney"
WHEN | WHERE Friday night at 9 and 11 on Showtime
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Opening under the broad Wyoming sky, on a river where the former vice president is fly-fishing, and closing on the same, this R.J. Cutler ("The War Room") film covers Dick Cheney's life and career, from the earliest days in Casper, Wy. to the last days of President George W. Bush's second term. With extensive outtakes from an interview with Cheney, the film ultimately writes his epitaph: "It isn't so much what you've achieved as what you've prevented," he says. "You don't get do-overs, [but] if I had to do it over again, I'd do it in a minute."
MY SAY Dick Cheney and Showtime? Are there any stranger bedfellows than these two? But brush aside that amusing incongruity, and you've got a remarkably fair portrait of the vice president that addresses every major controversy of the last 30 years with a scrupulousness that occasionally borders on tedium.
This film is long -- befitting a long career -- though by the time it rolls around to the intricacies of Cheney's role in the "warrantless" surveillance program, you may well find yourself in a dreamless sleep. It's beautifully produced and cleanly told, but there's nothing particularly new here, either.
Cheney says pretty much what you'd expect him to say -- that he's blameless in whatever went wrong with the Iraq War, and that he has no regrets. The Great Neck-raised Cutler takes him at his word, but some of the commentators, like Barton Gellman -- former Washington Post reporter and author of "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency" -- do not. For example, Gellman charges that Cheney "lied" to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, leading Armey to push through the House resolution on the war. (No response from the former vice president or Armey.)
Cheney ultimately emerges as principled, tough and dedicated to the proposition that popularity is for politicians or fools. He and his supporters will -- or should -- be thrilled.
BOTTOM LINE Not a lot new here, but Cheney gets a fair hearing -- even though a tougher one is occasionally warranted.