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Photo was taken before Obama took oath of office

You guys are nutty, and I love getting my chuckles from your Since You Asked column. In the Sunday, July 12, Mail Tribune, there is an article depicting Vice President Dick Cheney administering the Senate oath to Sen. Jeff Merkley, accompanied by his family. I like and respect Dick Cheney, but was unaware that he was still performing such duties. Nothing in the article refers to this. Please clarify for me. Am I out of it?

— Ruth R., Medford

There's nothing wrong with your mind, Ruth. A little trick we in the news business use to add art to a story is to blame for your confusion.

Under the photo of Merkley being sworn in is an "AP file photo" credit, meaning the photo was taken by The Associated Press sometime before.

This photo was taken on Jan. 6, when Merkley was sworn into office and before President Bush and Cheney turned the White House over to Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Jan. 20.

In order to avoid a big chunk of gray created by a story on a page, we like to insert a photo whenever possible. If no new art is available, we'll use a photo from the archives as long as it remains relevant. In this case, the story was about Merkley's first six months in office, so a photo of his first day in the Senate made sense.