BATON ROUGE, La. -- Washed out at Yale. Never quite got that PhD. Tossed out of an important job interview.
Vice President Dick Cheney, his favorability ratings even lower than President Bush's, gave college graduates a good-natured tour yesterday of some of the detours in his life as he counseled them to be ready to roll with life's punches.
''Setbacks in life can stop you dead in your tracks, or they can inspire you to move forward," he told more than 3,000 graduates during commencement exercises at Louisiana State University.
Life rarely turns out as planned, he said. Cheney said that when he graduated from the University of Wyoming, he expected to go on to graduate school, a doctorate, and a life in academia.
''Be on watch for those certain moments, and certain people, that come along and point you in a new direction," he said.
The vice president, 65, cited his first disastrous meeting with Donald H. Rumsfeld in the 1960s, when the defense secretary was a congressman and Cheney was interviewing for a fellowship.
''Things didn't go all that well," Cheney said. ''In fact, he pretty much threw me out of his office."
''Don had an impression of me that I was kind of a detached, theoretical, impractical, academic type," he said. ''And I thought he was a brash young politician with attitude. We were both right."
A few months later, however, Rumsfeld, gave Cheney his first job in the executive branch and subsequently hired him to work in the Ford White House.
Cheney also poked fun at himself for never quite getting around to writing the dissertation to complete his doctorate work.
''I'll get started as soon as I think of a topic to write about," he promised.
He confessed that he had started his college years at Yale, but dropped out after a few semesters.
''Actually, dropped out isn't quite accurate," he added. '' 'Asked to leave' would be more like it. Twice. The second time around, they said, 'Don't bother coming back.' "