Bye, Bye, Rib Eye

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Of course Washington is talking about Dick Cheney's power. But like Leno and Letterman, the capital is also buzzing about his health. After all, the man has had four heart attacks, and though he's only 5 1/2 years older than Dubya (Cheney turned 60 last week), his physique is decidedly old school--more like former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's than our gym-addicted President's. Does he have the stamina to be the most powerful Veep in history?

He appears to be holding up well so far. Since suffering a mild heart attack in November, Cheney has been working out for half an hour every morning on a treadmill and an elliptical trainer--one part cross-country ski machine, one part stair climber. The Veep's cardiologist, Jonathan Reiner, says Cheney is "doing great, doing all the right things, looking great." That means sacrifice. Cheney, an able chef who is known for preparing grilled meats, beef stew and spaghetti--and for tucking into roast beef sandwiches, ribs and bratwurst on the campaign trail--seems to have trimmed the fat from his diet. Cheney's office says he no longer starts the day with a "Western-style breakfast." Starbucks skim lattes are in, for both Dick and wife Lynne, when they can get them. During Inauguration week, the Cheneys barred chocolate, nuts and other fatty snacks from their Madison Hotel suite. And Cheney's butcher told TIME that the Vice President hasn't been coming by as often for his favorite cuts--porterhouse and rib-eye steaks. On his recent visits to the Someplace Special Giant Gourmet in McLean, Va., says meat manager Tim Bowman, Cheney moseyed right past the meat counter. "I guess as soon as they say he can eat more," says Bowman, "he'll buy more."

But even the mighty have their weaknesses. Back in December, at a postelection lunch at the Capitol, some Senators dined on chicken salad and melon. Cheney had fried chicken.