By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Lamm spends the next few weeks defending his comments. He explains that he was paraphrasing philosopher Leon Kass, insists that he was misquoted, and denies making any specific reference to the elderly or terminally ill having a duty to die. Meanwhile, other Lamm-isms draw fire, including his statement that it doesn't make sense to spend $10,000 a year teaching mentally retarded children to "roll over." All the publicity earns him a guest shot on the Today show and an invitation to write an article for Playboy on America's future, which he does, outraging feminists.
Shrugging off the controversies he's courted, the governor shows the spunk of Teddy Roosevelt by turning on the siren in his state car and chasing down a drunk driver in downtown Denver. A strident critic of bilingual education, Lamm has trouble mustering enough Spanish to tell the offender to stay put until the police arrive.
Clearly frustrated with the scope of his office, Lamm publishes two more policy books and a political "thriller," 1988, co-authored by media consultant and jogging buddy Arnold Grossman. The novel offers unthrilling prose (opening line: "So this is what it's like, getting shot by someone who wants you dead"--better than getting shot by someone who wants you alive?), vanilla sex scenes (two political operatives make love "without caveat") and a plot strictly from hunger: Popular former Texas governor bolts his party, runs for president as an independent and pushes an anti-immigration platform that's actually a front for corrupt oilmen and Palestinian terrorists. The governor's aide muses: "Although victory still seemed unlikely, it was clear that the American electorate was as close to being ready for an alternative candidacy as it would ever be."
Lamm's final months as governor are tainted by revelations concerning his "preferred client" relationship with penny-stock kingpin Meyer Blinder. Combining the financial acumen of Hillary Rodham Clinton with the selective forgetfulness of Ronald Reagan, Lamm admits that he invested $5,000 with Blinder and made $20,000--then remembers it was actually a profit of $50,000. Like Warren G. Harding, Lamm goes to bat for his friends, however unsavory: He quietly promotes Blinder's efforts to open a casino in Nevada while publicly denouncing efforts to legalize gambling in Colorado.
Taking a cue from Woodrow Wilson, Lamm retreats to academia to prep for his run at the White House. He and Grossman publish another presidential potboiler, A California Conspiracy. The obligatory sex scenes are more lurid than those in 1988 ("Cynthia guided his organ, which seemed to be near bursting, between her buttocks, so that he could enter her from the rear"); one steamy hot-tub liaison ends in murder. Most intriguing, though, is the strangely prescient political subtext: Young, charismatic California governor Terry Jordan is considering a run at the presidency, urged on by a wacky billionaire who wants to be governor. Turns out the billionaire is mixed up with Japanese fanatics and must snuff them out one by one before gracefully diving off the Golden Gate Bridge.
Elder statesman Lamm attends the opening ceremonies for C-470, a suburban beltway symbolic of Denver's sprawling growth. Fifteen years earlier, Lamm had vowed to kill the project with a "silver stake."
Lamm returns to the political arena, announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Once considered a shoo-in for the post, he's now hampered by his association with American Water Development Inc., a company bent on sucking water out of the San Luis Valley to further more urban growth, and by his increasingly alarmist statements about immigration, welfare mothers and the disabled. Environmentalists squirm over the AWDI connection; Hispanic activists actively campaign against him. He loses the Democratic primary but vows to support the victor, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who waits until he's comfortably in office before switching his allegiance to the Republican Party.
The makeover of the candidate is complete. Lamm becomes vice-chairman of the National Alumni Forum, a group dedicated to fighting political correctness on campuses across the country. Among the NAF's "bipartisan" national council and advisors are several prominent conservatives: Lynne Cheney, Colorado senator Hank Brown, Irving Kristol, James Q. Wilson, Leon "Duty to Die" Kass... and a wild card named Dick Lamm.
Time reports that Lamm is also meeting with Gary Hart, John Anderson, Bill Bradley, Paul Tsongas and other past presidential hopefuls and also-rans--the so-called "gang of seven"--to explore the prospect of launching a third party. Lamm denies the magazine's speculation about the group fielding its own candidate, though, telling reporters he doesn't want to split the Democratic Party. "I don't want to have the defeat of Bill Clinton on my conscience," he says.
Not to worry.