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Cheney Says He Couldn’t Overrule Doctors Who Declared Him Fit

Former Vice President Dick Cheney in April.

Among the newsworthy moments in Dr. Sanjay Gupta's interview of former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday's 60 Minutes is a discussion about how Cheney came to be the 2000 Republican vice presidential nominee even though he had already suffered three heart attacks by that time.

Here's how CBS News' website puts it:

"When George W. Bush asked Cheney to be his running mate in 2000, there was enough concern that the Bush campaign sought out the opinion of world renowned Texas heart surgeon Denton Cooley. After speaking with Cheney's cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Dr. Cooley told the Bush campaign that Cheney was in good health with normal cardiac function.

"Sanjay Gupta: The normal cardiac function wasn't true.

"Dick Cheney: I'm not responsible for that. I didn't know what took place between the doctors.

"Sanjay Gupta: This idea that you have this respected heart surgeon from Texas who didn't see you, didn't examine you, and then writes something saying that you have normal cardiac function. That just wasn't true, Mr. Vice President.

"Dick Cheney: Go ask Denton Cooley about that.

"Sanjay Gupta: But sir, you saw it.

"Dick Cheney: Listen to me, I think the bottom line is: was I up to the task of being vice president? And there's no question. I think based upon the fact that I did it for eight years that they were right."

Cheney had his fourth heart attack in late 2000 -- during the recount of that year's election. He suffered his fifth in 2010. The former vice president is now 72. In March 2012 he had a heart transplant.

One of the other headlines from the 60 Minutes interview: As The Associated Press writes, "Cheney feared that terrorists could use the electrical device that had been implanted near his heart to kill him and had his doctor disable its wireless function."

In related news, New York Times correspondent Peter Baker's book Days of Fire goes on sale Tuesday. USA Today has reported that the book makes the case that "the Bush-Cheney relationship frayed over the years."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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