11/28/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Liz Cheney Recycles

Liz Cheney is related by blood -- or whatever the Cheneys drink -- to a real live-ish former vice president of the United States. And they're close, too. Just ask her, or today's New York Times.

By all accounts, the Cheneys are a tight-knit and at times insular unit steeped in the family business. The extended brood all live within about 15 minutes of one another in northern Virginia. They gather for Sunday night dinners, usually at Liz's house, and travel to family homes in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Ms. Cheney began her Nashville speech by saying that she had asked her father for advice on what she should say. "That's a really important room full of people," she said he told her. "So don't screw it up." Laughter ensued.

Liz Cheney was speaking to a meeting of the prestigious Smart Girl Politics™ (Established July, 2008) Smart Girls Summit. So you could see why it would have dominated Sunday dinner conversation, six days before. And why Dick Cheney would send his little girl out there with his asshole clenched like an imploding star, hoping they'd be impressed.

"This is the Smart Girl Nation, kid. The Big Time. Make me proud. And if you get nervous, just imagine them naked, and being tortured."

Don't screw it up.

The Times weren't the only people struck by this rare insight into table talk in the Cheney keep. The Smart Girls were deeply touched.

From their website:

After the morning's speakers and panels... Liz Cheney spoke to us about the importance of national security. Before she got into the topic at hand, she told us that she had asked her dad (former Vice President Dick Cheney) for some advice on speaking to us grass root activists. He told her, "They are the future of our country. Don't screw it up." What a difference in thinking from some other politicians! This man actually understands the significance of the conservative brush fire sweeping through our country.

They probably meant to say "prairie fire." A prairie fire is something good, in political clichés. A brush fire? Not so good. At least they didn't say "trash fire."

Still, awfully nice for the Smart Girls, to know they're on Dick's mind. And what a revealing, off-the-cuff nugget for the Times, too.

Here's the thing, though. The "don't screw up" story? Liz Cheney says it every time she gives a speech. She just changes the name of the audience.

Here she is, for instance, at the Redstate Gathering, in Atlanta, last August:

I want to bring greetings to you from the whole Cheney family. When I told my dad I was coming today I asked him for some advice, and he said to me, in a nice, kind fatherly way, "Liz, this is a really important group. So don't screw it up."

And that's okay, too. Politicians have been known to say the same thing more than once. There's a cliché about faking sincerity and it's brushing the country like a conservative on fire.

But a reporter should know the difference between a line from a stump speech and spontaneous sharing. Not being able to tell one from the other is kind of bush.

And the Smart Girls might want to find a new adjective.