November 25, 2005 -- Is Vice President Dick Cheney X-rated or are his arguments just too politi cally reprehensible for CNN?

That's the question after a mysterious flashing black "X" appeared over the veep's face during the network's live airing of his speech Monday.

Ironically, the veep was defending the principle of open, honest debate in this case, over the Iraq war. He was also responding to claims that the administration misled the nation into war, and to calls for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

While brief, the image was there long enough for folks to wonder: What gives?

CNN claims it was a "technical malfunction" and blamed it on a machine that "switches between visual elements."

Hmmm . . . convenient, no?

* A major address by the vice president.

* Iraq is the focus.

* Cheney stares down critics.

Yet, somehow, a one-in-a-million technical glitch plasters an X over the administration's lightning rod and top target of liberal scorn.

CNN's official statement: "Upon seeing this unfortunate but very brief graphic, CNN senior management immediately investigated. We concluded this was a technical malfunction, not an issue of operator error."

Yet the network is famous for its left-wing bent and who's to say some zealous CNN staffer wasn't in the mood for a little mischief?

Is the public really supposed to just take CNN's word for it?

No matter. At the end of the day, Dick Cheney may have had an X over his face for a few moments. But CNN no matter what the explanation has plenty of something else on its: EGG.