Vice President of the United States
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The Vice President of the United States (also known as the VP or "veep") is a murky political office. The primary function the office holder serves is to be a "heartbeat away" from the Presidency. That is, according to the rules of succession, if the President should leave this mortal coil, the Vice President is automatically moved into the much fancier office. This would also happen if the president resigned (as with Nixon), or is impeached (and convicted), or if he/she declared inability to discharge the duties of the office (either permanently or temporarily). Other than that, the Vice Presidency is pretty much "not worth a bucket of warm piss."
The Vice President has a rather short list of "powers" and responsibilities, which include:
- Being the President of the US Senate. In the early days of the Republic, this actually meant presiding over Senate sessions on a day-to-day basis. Today, it means that they "gavel in" each annual session, and, rarely, run certain special functions, such as ratifying the results of a Presidential election.
- Casting the tie-breaking vote in the Senate - now mostly meaningless thanks to the perversion of the filibuster which means nothing gets passed if 40 or more senators say they don't like it.
- Often picking a pet project and working on it, in order to avoid boredom while...
- Attending second-tier state funerals, and
- Waiting for the sitting president to die, or complete two successful terms so they can run themselves.
Politically, the Vice Presidential choice is often made in order to "balance the ticket" — that is, the veep selection is intended to draw in voters who might not be impressed by the presidential candidate, or to perhaps bring an important state's electoral votes to the table. As such, this often means that the veep is someone despised by the president, coming from a rather different political perspective. Of course, this tends to be a terrible idea when the President actually dies; notably, Abraham Lincoln ran for re-election with a running mate from the opposing party as to gain Southern votes. A month into his second term, he was shot, and the country was controlled by a drunken idiot for 4 years.
They are usually kept in the dark and fed bullshit; however, starting with the Carter administration the office started to take on a more active role. Most strikingly, Dick Cheney practically ran the United States for eight years from this office. And arguably Joe Biden, while not as much "the power behind the throne" as his predecessor is/was kind of a big fucking deal - notably when it comes to gay marriage.
- Warm bucket of piss