ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WR
What's better than being vice president? Duh, president. But not if you're Dick Cheney. As he and President Bush prepare to leave the building, Cheney already has his sights set on what his family calls the best job ever: Grandpa to his six grandkids. "He and my mom are completely involved grandparents," says daughter Mary, the mom of 14-month-old Sam. "It's always been amazing to me how much he makes time for them," she tells us. And we have proof. Jeanne Coley, a mom of twin girls, tells us that she was at Potomac, Md.'s Saddle Club, where her daughters were enrolled in pony camp last month, when the veep's motorcade arrived. Out popped Cheney to watch his granddaughter Grace perform in the week's final show. "You could just see how proud he was," says Coley. What's more, he stayed behind to take pictures with well-wishers like Coley's daughters, Katie and Morgan. "He complimented them and said they did very good, too," coos Coley. Saddle Club Director Carolyn Nordberg says Grace, the daughter of Cheney's daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Philip Perry, had a lot to show Grandpa after her pony camp. "Just like any little girl, I think she was over the moon to have her granddad there," says Nordberg. Mary Cheney says her dad loves having the grandkids around and often sneaks off the compound to attend their events. He and wife, Lynne, also schedule special events for them, like this month's July 4 trip to Boston to hop aboard the uss Constitution for its annual turnaround. Pal and former aide Mary Matalin adds: "I can't think of one place the Cheneys have been without at least one and usually more of the kids." Mary Cheney says it surprises people when her parents show up with their lawn chairs at soccer or field hockey games. But the grandkids have a different view. "The kids have this great perspective on it which is, 'Yes, he's the vice president, but he's my Grandpa.' "