Joe Biden's harrowing helicopter ride

Jake Turcotte

Who says Joe Biden isn't newsworthy?

It all started yesterday when Joe Biden was addressing attendees of a National Guard conference in Baltimore.  The Democratic nominee for vice president recounted a harrowing experience when he was  "forced down" over the mountains of Afghanistan.

“If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where Bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me,” Biden said. “Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.”

Old news

Biden has referenced the helicopter incident before.  In fact, The Vote blog referenced it two weeks ago.  Biden was talking at a fundraiser in Chicago and gave the group a preview of what he was going to discuss in his upcoming debate with Sarah Palin.

We wrote, referencing a Chicago Sun Times article, that Biden was going to question Palin about "the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan where my helicopter was forced down…John McCain wants to know where Bin Laden and the gates of Hell are? I can tell him where. That’s where Al Qaeda is. That’s where Bin Laden is. It’s not in the country of Iraq."

But we were lazy.


Jake Tapper, over at ABC News, hadn't heard about the helicopter incident and smartly Googled it.  This is what he found out:

In February 2008, Biden -- along with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. -- was on a chopper that made an emergency landing in the mountains of Afghanistan.
A snowstorm had forced them down.

A snowstorm?

Tapper went out to write:

"The weather closed in on us," Kerry told the AP at the time in a phone interview from Turkey. "It went pretty blind, pretty fast and we were around some pretty dangerous ridges. So the pilot exercised his judgment that we were better off putting down there, and we all agreed...We sat up there and traded stories."

Kerry joked, "We were going to send Biden out to fight the Taliban with snowballs, but we didn't have to do it…Other than getting a little cold, it was fine."

I'm here all week.  Try the veal...

In both retellings of his story, Biden seemed to have left out the part that it was a snowstorm that forced his chopper down, leading some to think that he was implying that it was brought down by hostile forces. This led to a rather humorous exchange this morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Host Joe Scarborough, a conservative former member of the House, mockingly asked, "If bullets had gone another way, Joe Biden  may not have been here today?"

After plenty of banter, co-host Willie Geist responded, "Not bullets, kind of like bullets – snow. A snowstorm forced them to make landing."

Scarborough feigned, "I don't understand."

Geist was more than happy to explain, "Unless the Taliban controls the weather, the Taliban did not force this helicopter down."

Conservative or liberal, it was a funny exchange.

Heads up

Of course the McCain staff blasted out an email making certain everyone knew about it and – get this – had an opinion on the whole thing.

"Biden’s exaggeration of his Afghan helicopter ride is no surprise and reminds us of his daily assignment to embellish and fashion a record for Barack Obama where one simply does not exist," said McCain spokesman Ben Porritt.

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