Perhaps no political figure since Richard Nixon has been as universally despised as former Vice President Dick Cheney. Malevolent puppet master to some, the spawn of Satan to others, Cheney’s strong will, conservative mind and terrific scowl sealed the Bush administration as the worst eight years in many liberals’ lives. Despite being plagued by health problems and political attacks from the Left, Cheney still refuses to ride off into the sunset. He was recently found to be involved in the cover-up of a secret CIA counter-terrorism program while he was vice president. Cheney’s been a hero of mine for years. Here are the top six reasons why you should love him, too.

6. He knows how to fight.

During George H.W. Bush’s presidency, Cheney served as Secretary of Defense. Along with General Norman Schwarzkopf, he was the mastermind behind Operation Desert Storm, the military strike that removed invading Iraqi forces from Kuwait faster than you can say, “Elite Republican Guard.” Less than four days after U.S. forces led a ground assault supported by the United Nations, Saddam Hussein’s troops were high-tailing it back to Baghdad.

5. He might be immortal.

It’s fitting that Cheney has thwarted every one of his heart’s attempts to kill him — the man has survived four heart attacks. After several surgeries, including quadruple bypass and angioplasty, Cheney received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator — or ICD — in 2001. The device is meant to shock Cheney’s heart back into normal rhythm if he suffers a sudden arrhythmia.

4. He is Darth Vader.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi said of Darth Vader in the “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” “He’s more machine now than man; twisted and evil.” The association between Cheney and the treacherous Sith Lord began soon after his ICD surgery. Like Vader, Cheney was a right-hand man that struck fear into the hearts of enemies of Bush’s Evil Galactic Empire. Cheney even joked about being Lord Vader at the Washington Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner in 2008. He had asked his wife if the comparison bothered her, to which she responded, “No. It humanizes you.” Now compare Cheney to Joe Biden — President Barack Obama’s bumbling, gaffing vice president who somehow got elected to the U.S. Senate. If Cheney is Darth Vader, then Biden is Jar Jar Binks.

3. He’s got a soft side.

Conquering the galaxy hasn’t gotten in the way of Cheney’s family life. He’s been married to his high school sweetheart, Lynne, for almost 45 years. They have two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, and six grandchildren. When Mary’s homosexuality became an issue in the 2004 presidential campaign, Cheney stood by his daughter despite pressure to denounce her lifestyle. He continues to support the right of state governments to legalize gay marriage to this day.

2. He shot his friend in the face — and got an apology for it.

In Feb. 2006, Cheney made his most infamous headline after he accidentally shot Harry Whittington, a friend and campaign contributor, while quail hunting. The 78-year-old Whittington recovered quickly, but he surprised many during his first address to the media after being discharged from the hospital. Whittington said, “My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney has had to go through this past week. We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we’ve had this week.” Whittington actually admitted that the media assault Cheney suffered after the incident was more difficult than enduring a barrage of birdshot. Most impressive.

1. He’s still relevant.

Continuing the trend of recent vice presidents, Cheney’s influence has grown since he left office. He’s one of the most vocal critics of the Obama administration. He’s spoken out against Obama’s economic policies and his handling of the war on terrorism. He has been out of the White House for months, but many people still consider Cheney public enemy number one. The latest accusation against him recently made the news. It involves the potential illegality of Cheney not informing Congress of a mysterious, recently terminated CIA counter-terrorism program that began eight years ago.

Even if you hate Dick Cheney, admit it — you actually love to hate Dick Cheney. He’s either the perfect hero or the perfect villain. From his wise-ass smirk in his official White House photo to the black fedora he sported at Obama’s inauguration, he’s impossible to forget. Like Lord Vader, he’ll go down in history as one of our most beloved antagonists.

Chris Koslowski can be reached at cskoslow@umich.edu.

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