In a bold new strategy aimed at avoiding a congressional subpoena, Vice President Dick Cheney today declared himself a national monument.
Cheney took the unorthodox step only after failing in his attempt to invoke a little-known legal principle called the separation of Cheney and state.
Aides to Cheney confirmed that being a national monument gives the vice president not only immunity from subpoenas, but also a draft deferment in perpetuity.
President George W. Bush presided over a solemn White House ceremony this morning, in which a plaque documenting Cheney's status as a national monument was affixed to the vice president's midsection.
Joining the ranks of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, Cheney is believed to be the only landmark in the nation's capital not made at least partially out of marble.
But even as his attempt to evade a subpoena appeared to have succeeded, the vice president's new status as a national monument created unexpected problems, as Independence Day tourists lined up around the block to get a glimpse of Washington's latest historic attraction.
Perhaps in an effort to control the crowds, Cheney announced today that the admission price for seeing him would be set at $75,000.
White House spokesman Tony Snow defended the $75,000 price tag, saying that it was an appropriate price to see a national monument of Dick Cheney's stature.
"Seventy-five thousand dollars is what it costs to see Dick Cheney," Snow said. "Just ask any lobbyist."
Elsewhere, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that all Americans should go about their normal activities this holiday weekend, "except you terrorists."