8/29/08 at 8:00 PM
STARTING POINTIn February 2006, while hunting quail, Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shoots his friend, 78-year-old Texas lawyer Harry Whittington, in the face, spraying birdshot into his head, neck and torso. Whittington is helicoptered to a hospital.FEVER PITCHWhittington suffers a heart attack from a migrating pellet. A few days later, Cheney fesses up: "You can't blame anybody else ... I'm the guy who pulled the trigger." Then Whittington apologizes to him.PRESENT DAYWhittington still practices law in Austin. He says he's fully recovered, though pellets in his larynx changed his voice, and he still has birdshot in his chest, throat and eyes. Though Cheney's been "very kind" and calls him to check up, Whittington is no longer involved in Republican politics. "My biggest question," he tells NEWSWEEK, "is trying to figure out, 'Lord, why me?' "