WASHINGTON, DC—Recovering from minor heart surgery Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney stunned both the medical and political establishments when he mysteriously began to experience love for the first time in his life, sources reported Tuesday.

A replaced defibrillator is having unexpected effects on the vice president, as this photo taken Monday reveals.

It is believed to have been the first recorded incident of Cheney exhibiting compassion for his fellow man.

Calling the vice president's sudden ability to love "mystifying" but a possible medical breakthrough that could aid other Americans who suffer from acute mulishness and generalized misanthropy, Dr. Jonathan Samuel Reiner, Cheney's cardiologist, said in a press conference at George Washington University Hospital that the vice president exhibited a series of unexpected side effects almost immediately after regaining consciousness following his surgery.

"The vice president broke free from the straps that secured him to the bed and lurched at me as he customarily does following a heart procedure," said Reiner. "But instead of trying to strangle me, he wrapped his arms around me in a hug."

According to Reiner, Cheney left the hospital under his own power, but returned minutes later complaining of unfamiliar chest palpitations and sensations of warmth for others regardless of political affiliation or income. A test of the replacement defibrillator showed that the device was functioning properly, and an examination of Cheney revealed no physical abnormalities.

"The vice president's eyes had an unfamiliar gleam in them, and he didn't sound like his usual self at all, so we checked for signs of a stroke, but found none," Reiner said. "His voice was atypically soft, and his hands felt warm to the touch."

Cheney with "new BFF" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) at the Capitol Tuesday.

Lynne Cheney, wife of the vice president, told reporters that her husband was "doing fine" upon release from the hospital, but acknowledged that he had exhibited some peculiar traits.

"When he came home, he did not characteristically stomp into the house and grumble about how the 'stupid American people should just be shot,'" Mrs. Cheney said. "Instead, he bent down to scratch the dog behind his ears instead of kicking him, and kissed me off-camera for the first time in 10 years."

Mrs. Cheney added she has not ruled out the possibility that her husband's blood- thinning medication may have been switched, unintentionally or not, with a CIA mind-control drug.

Over the past two days, various White House and Capitol Hill sources have also reported bizarre behavior by the vice president. Cheney was back at work Monday, and, according to incredulous eyewitnesses, greeted each of his staff members by name. Later that afternoon, he canceled his regular weekly meeting with Halliburton executives, then kicked off his shoes, rolled up his pants, and strolled around barefoot on the White House lawn.

Attending a Monday evening GOP fundraiser at the Washington Convention Center, Cheney was accompanied by David Gillian, 6, a young boy he had previously crippled, and by a small fawn who had followed him to the event. Mounting the podium as the featured speaker, he told supporters he had cast aside his planned speech on the counterinsurgency in Iraq's Anbar Province in order to "tell the real truth."

"If the events of Sept. 11 have taught us anything, it is this: We need to learn to love one another," Cheney said. "We are all entwined in an unbreakable braid of human brotherhood. Each of us has something good and special to offer. If we work together, we can make the world into a most wonderful place where we can turn our attention to the truly important things, like snuggling."

During a C-SPAN-televised appearance at the Senate Tuesday, Cheney, in his role as Senate president, announced he had brought doughnuts for everyone, and encouraged the legislators to be more sensitive to one another's feelings.

"I've wasted so much of my life on a mindless quest for power and outright destruction," an increasingly emotional Cheney said. "What about all the sunsets I've missed?"

"What are these things you call 'tears'?" added Cheney, as Senate ushers politely escorted him from the chamber.

Despite his miraculous turnaround, doctors are calling Cheney's condition unstable and, if left untreated, possibly fatal. On Friday, Cheney will return to George Washington University Hospital to have the defibrillator removed, as it is feared that prolonged exposure to love could overwhelm his already shrunken and ulcerated black heart.