WASHINGTON - Vice President
Dick Cheney is assuming the powers of the presidency for the second time in five
years while President Bush undergoes a medical procedure.
Bush planned to hand over authority to Cheney on Saturday before the
president goes under anesthesia to receive a routine colonoscopy ¡ª a test to
look for potential cancer. The same routine was followed when Bush underwent a
colonoscopy in 2002.
Saturday's procedure was to be performed at Camp David, the presidential
retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains. At the time, Cheney was to be at his
home on the Chesapeake Bay in St. Michaels, Md., about 45 miles east of
Two polyps were discovered during examinations in 1998 and 1999 while Bush
was governor of Texas. In 2002, Bush had no symptoms and doctors recommended
another test in five years.
"Although no polyps were noted in the exam in 2002, age and history would
suggest that there's a reasonable chance that polyps will be noted this time,"
said White House press secretary Tony Snow. "If so, they'll be removed and
evaluated microscopically." Bush is 61.
Snow, himself a cancer sufferer, said results would be available after 48
hours to 72 hours, if not sooner.
Snow had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy
after being diagnosed with colon cancer. On March 26, he underwent surgery to
remove a growth in his abdominal area, and doctors determined that cancer had
metastasized, or spread, to the liver.
Saturday's procedure was to be supervised by Dr. Richard Tubb, the
president's doctor, and performed by a team from the National Naval Medical
Center at Bethesda, Md.
In transferring power while under anesthesia, Bush is electing to implement
Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, making Cheney acting
president until Bush indicates he is prepared to reassume his authority. It has
been invoked only twice before. The first time was in July 1985 when President
Reagan underwent surgery and turned over power to his vice president, Bush's
father. The other time was in 2002.