Richard Bruce Cheney was born in Lincoln, Nebraska on January 30, 1941. Cheney was the son of Richard Herbert Cheney, a soil-conservation agent, and Marjorie Lauraine Dickey Cheney. He was born in Nebraska and grew up in Casper, Wyoming. He entered Yale University in 1959 but failed to graduate. Cheney earned bachelor's (1965) and master's (1966) degrees in political science from the University of Wyoming and was a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin.
In 1968 Cheney moved to Washington, D.C., to serve as a congressional fellow, and, beginning in 1969, he worked in the administration of President Richard Nixon. After leaving government service briefly in 1973, he became a deputy assistant to Pres. Gerald Ford in 1974 and his chief of staff from 1975 to 1977. In 1978 he was elected from Wyoming to the first of six terms in the United States House of Representatives, where he rose to become the Republican whip. In the House, Cheney took conservative positions on abortion, gun control, and environmental regulation, among other issues. In 1978 he suffered the first of several mild heart attacks, and he underwent quadruple-bypass surgery in 1988.
From 1989 to 1993 he served as secretary of defense in the administration of Pres. George Bush, presiding over reductions in the military following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Cheney also oversaw the U.S. military invasion of Panama and the participation of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf War. After President Bush lost his reelection bid in 1992, Cheney became a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. In 1995 he became the chairman and chief executive officer of the Halliburton Company, a supplier of technology and services to the oil and gas industries.
After George W. Bush's primary victories secured his nomination for the presidency of the United States, Cheney was appointed to head Bush's vice presidential search committee. Few expected that Cheney himself would eventually become the Republican vice presidential candidate. Two weeks after election day, Cheney suffered another mild heart attack, though he quickly resumed his duties as leader of Bush's presidential transition team.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Cheney remained physically apart from Bush for security reasons. For a period, Cheney stayed at an undisclosed location, out of public view. He also utilized a heavy security detail, employing a motorcade of 12 to 18 government vehicles for his daily commute from the Vice Presidential residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory to the White House. On the morning of June 29, 2002, Cheney served as Acting President of the United States under the terms of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, while Bush was undergoing a colonoscopy. Cheney acted as President from 11:09 UTC that day until Bush resumed the powers of the presidency at 13:24 UTC
As vice president, Cheney was active and used his influence to help shape the administration's energy policy and foreign policy in the Middle East. He played a central, controversial role in conveying intelligence reports that Saddam Hussein of Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in violation of resolutions passed by the United Nations—reports used by the Bush administration to initiate the Iraq War. However, Iraq had no WMDs that could be found. Following the collapse of Saddam's regime, Cheney's former company, Halliburton, secured lucrative reconstruction contracts from the U.S. government, raising the specter of favoritism and possible wrongdoing—allegations that damaged Cheney's public reputation. Critics, who had long charged Cheney with being a secretive public servant, included members of Congress who brought suit against him for not disclosing records used to form the national energy policy.
Bush and Cheney were re-elected in the 2004 presidential election, running against John Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards. During the election, the pregnancy of his daughter Mary and her sexual orientation as a lesbian became a source of public attention for Cheney in light of the same-sex marriage debate. Cheney has stated that he is in favor of gay marriages but that each individual state should decide whether to permit it. Cheney's former chief legal counsel, David Addington, became his chief of staff and remained in that office until Cheney's departure from office. John P. Hannah served as Cheney's national security adviser.] Until his indictment and resignation in 2005, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr. served in both roles. On the morning of July 21, 2007, Cheney once again served as acting president, from 7:16 AM to 9:21 AM. Bush transferred the power of the presidency prior to undergoing a medical procedure, requiring sedation, and later resumed his powers and duties that same day. After his term began in 2001, Cheney was occasionally asked if he was interested in the Republican nomination for the 2008 elections. However, he always maintained that he wished to retire upon the expiration of his term and he did not run in the 2008 presidential primaries. The Republicans nominated Arizona Senator John McCain.