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VP's hotel needs not quite enough

When you're on the road a lot, I guess hotel accommodations get to be a pretty important issue.

What brought this up was the Web site The Smoking Gun got a copy of Vice President Dick Cheney's "contract rider" when he's on the road.

A contract rider is the part of an agreement, usually between a celebrity and a show promoter, that specifies what extra hoops the promoter has to jump through to keep the celebrity happy enough to actually perform at his show.

And there are some weird ones, many of which you can find at Smoking Gun and other Web sites. For instance, the Dixie Chicks expect promoters to make at least a good faith effort to convert some of the men's restrooms at their concert halls into women's restrooms, so as to cut down on the traditional long lines at the women's facilities. They prefer the long lines run outside the remaining men's restrooms instead.

Looking at Cheney's list of requirements, they actually were pretty bland - a queen or king bed, desk and chair, private bathroom, a brewed pot of decaf, a microwave, four cans of Diet Sprite, four to six bottles of water, a container of ice and directions to the ice maker.

The room should be set at 68 degrees and apparently the veep has a thing about not being kept in the dark, since he wants all the lights turned on and copies of the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and the local newspaper available. Then again, all the TVs in the suite have to be tuned to Fox News, so there's a mixed signal.

I was, I admit, a little surprised to see that the vice president's wife, when she's along, wants a couple of bottles of water, too, and specifies brands - Calistoga, which comes from California, and Perrier, which comes from you-know-where and which will likely be renamed freedom water any day now by the House of Representatives.

I can feel for the vice president on this issue, though. Love for family will make you do things you'd normally avoid at all costs.

Several years ago, our youngest son, Justin, spotted a New York Yankees cap that he badly wanted for Christmas. As a longtime Braves fan and confirmed Yankees hater, every fiber of my being protested as I handed the clerk my debit card.

And last Christmas, I got my niece's husband, David, a Georgia Tech sweatshirt, which wasn't nearly as bad, but did require some serious soul searching first because they don't come in red and black.

On the water front, however, the Cheneys can't hold a paper-cone cup to some other folks.

I saw where comedian Robin Williams, one of the funniest men alive, requires a dozen cans each of Coke and Diet Coke and two entire cases of bottled water.

And Bill Cosby, one of my all-time favorite comedians, gets a dozen bottles of Evian, along with Neutrogena brand bath soap and Cottonelle or equivalent quality toilet paper, something the Dixie Chicks might want to think about adding to their restroom conversion demands.

In all honesty, if I were the vice president, I'd have quite a few more riders.

First, I'd want somebody to go over the room inch by inch with one of those blue lights that they use on "CSI" and immediately remove anything that had any kind of bodily fluid on it. And somebody had better have sanitized the toilet seat for my protection.

I'd want one of those beds that have a little coin-operated machine next to it that you can drop quarters into so the bed'll vibrate away all the daily stress of running a major world power.

I'd need a stack of quarters.

I'd want my room to not face the red neon hotel sign, on account of the annoying flashing through the window might distract me from some of Bill O'Reilly's insightful commentary.

I'd want a leather recliner facing the TV with a table next to the recliner suitable for holding my pizza and beverage. I'd want all the TVs to have the out-of-market packages for whatever sport's in season.

I wouldn't, however, need a TV remote because I'd have my Secret Service agent there to change channels for me. I also wouldn't need directions to the ice maker, since my agent would be in charge of getting me some ice between crucial channel-changing assignments.

I'd want the name of a really good local pizza parlor that delivers and doesn't have employees who say stuff like, "Oh, yeah. Sure. You're the vice president. And I'm Hillary Clinton," right before they hang up on you.

I'd want better toilet paper than what Bill Cosby got when he stayed there.

And finally, I'd want a chocolate mint on my pillow.

On second thought, skip the mint. After all, I wouldn't want to be a lot of trouble.

Jim Hendricks is editor of the Albany Herald, sister paper of the Gwinnett Daily Post. E-mail him at jim.hendricks@albanyherald.com.