Apparently there actually is a person who reads Maureen Dowd's columns while somehow missing her often over-the-top use of sarcasm, irony, and hyperbole - Jonah Goldberg:
Maureen Dowd, the reigning scribe of unthinking liberalism, recently wrote in the New York Times that Dick Cheney — whom she calls "The Grim Peeper" — is trying to turn America into a "police state." "I don't like the thought of Dick Cheney ogling my Googling," Dowd writes without rhyme or reason.Oh, I recognize that Goldberg doesn't believe in the literal truth of what he writes. He is smart enough to recognize that Dowd does not literally expect Dick Cheney to be personally reviewing her Google searches. Further, it is not the fault of the political left that Dick Cheney has become the poster child for intrusive government. Has Cheney ever spoken publicly on any government intrusion into individual privacy without warmly embracing the intrusion?
It was a silly column, even for Dowd, but it does capture a certain level of both the legitimate fear and the outright paranoia out there.
Partisanship is obviously part of the equation. For instance, the heretofore-unknown disease of Cheneyphobia seems to be reaching epidemic proportions. It seems to cause some people to believe that the vice president of the United States has superhuman powers and that he is capable of personally reading hundreds of millions of e-mails while listening to thousands of hours of phone conversations and — simultaneously — scanning trillions of web searches.
Goldberg doesn't identify even a single person who "seems to" believe Cheney capable of serving as a one-man Total Information Awareness project; I doubt that he sincerely believes that such a person exists. One would think that somebody so gifted with the use of hyperbole would recognize its use by others.