By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
Just two days before, Webb had held a press conference boasting that the city was ready for anything El Nino could throw at it. And his wasn't the only political snow job of the year. A Golden retriever named Shanda was elected mayor of the Park County town of Guffey. The official explanation for the dog's election: "The cat left." Up at the state capitol, lawmakers simultaneously mulled bills banning female genital mutilation and advocating the castration of male criminals. Both got nipped in the bud.
Sometimes legislators seemed to be speaking another language altogether--which at times proved to be pig Latin. During a hearing on the state lottery's use of public funds to buy liquor for parties, state representative Ben Clarke of Denver--who during a discussion of the chemical castration bill had opined, "My suggestion is that we just whack the little critter off"--told a puzzled Lotto official, "Ixnay on the oozebay." Clarke later cemented his reputation for getting to the heart of issues during a discussion of concealed-weapon legislation that would allegedly help protect farmers in rural areas. "Are the cows armed or what?" asked Clarke.
State senator Ben Alexander of Montrose was even more outspoken, telling an eighteen-year-old Montrose High School student he was a "worthless piece of shit" after the teenager wrote an essay asserting that America's forefathers were "hypocritical, pot-smoking idealists." And state senator Charles Duke made national headlines with a little outburst of his own, informing El Paso County sheriff's deputies that Newt Gingrich and former Education Secretary William Bennett might have been behind the alleged burglary of his home near Monument. Though Duke continued to lead state pols when it came to shooting off his mouth, his Senate colleague Mary Anne Tebedo became the first member with the capacity to shoot off someone else's. This year Tebedo publicly declared what many had already suspected: that she had a gun and was prepared to use it. "It's no secret that I carry," said the pistol-packin' grandma.
Over at the Regional Transportation District, the politicians were more likely to shoot from the lip. During one public meeting, boardmember Ron Nichol told colleague Mary Blue, "Shut up, bitch." When reporters expressed shock at the outburst, Blue's colleague Jon Caldara told them, "If you think calling someone a bitch is something, I've heard of people saying 'Fuck you' at these meetings." The board, meanwhile, got essentially the same message from voters, who in November blasted its billion-dollar Guide the Ride proposal at the polls.
Even more shell-shocked was Governor Roy Romer, whose decision to take the job of national party chairman for the Democratic party was only the latest sign of declining brain function. The guv's exploits this year included flying to California without his wallet and having to beg spare change from fellow passengers; showing up at JFK airport in New York to fly to Turkey without his passport; and attending a Washington, D.C., banquet at which he attempted to start a conversation with the most overexposed woman in America, Martha Stewart, by asking her, "Martha, what is it you do?" Oh, well--at least the guv had his video collection to watch during his daily spoon feedings. Romer told reporters a favorite was a tape of his own shoulder surgery, which he had already sat through twice. Marveled Romo, "There's all kinds of gunk and goo in there."
The dogs of the press got a better reception during the prestigious Summit of the Eight, when Coors offered to provide free beer to media representatives from around the world. Queried journalist Sam Lusky, "Anybody ever seen a horde of locusts strip a wheat field?" The city went all out to head off trouble during the Summit, welding metal grates over Denver's sewer drains as a security measure. As it turned out, though, most of the Summit meetings were so boring, not even a sewer-based terrorist would have felt like crashing them. After a few uneventful gabfests, the world's most powerful men adjourned to an un-air-conditioned cow barn at the stock-show complex to witness performances by Crystal Gayle and Kool and the Gang. As German chancellor Helmut Kohl told a fellow party-goer, "I don't know much English, but this is shit."
Former Colorado congresswoman Pat Schroeder didn't know shit when she went on celebrity Jeopardy. But luckily for her, neither did comedian Al Franken or NBC-TV reporter Jack Ford, and Schroeder emerged the victor in a pathetic contest in which the total cash awarded was $100. All three contestants botched the "Final Jeopardy" question, but while Franken and Ford bet all their money and lost, Schroeder held back $100. At least she had an excuse for her own poor performance: "I just could not get my clicker to work."
Delicate personal problems aside, Schroeder wasn't the only Colorado politician to get face time on the boob tube. Wellington Webb got his own talk show on the city cable channel this year and also made a surprise appearance in May on The Late Show With David Letterman, winging his way to the Ed Sullivan Theater along with 461 other Denverites for a theme show complete with a choir singing the praises of the Tattered Cover Book Store. The whole exercise fell flat, though, when an anticipated performance by Highlands Ranch trained bird "Billie Bird," who whistles and stamps her foot, was axed due to lack of time.