Off Limits

See you in the funny pages.

U.S. Representative Joel Hefley was no fan of President Bill Clinton; the Colorado Springs Republican regularly critiqued the Clinton administration. But Hefley does have reason to mourn the changing of the guard: He's losing his favorite target. Although Coloradans know Hefley as the most silent, and arguably most conservative, member of Colorado's six-person House delegation, he could have a budding second career as a political cartoonist, and he's becoming well-known on The Hill for his illustrative zingers. The creative process begins with doodles done during tedious committee hearings and ends with full-fledged cartoons completed on a drawing table at Hefley's home. Not surprisingly, the drawings frequently take on the former president.

One cartoon shows Clinton dressed in a carnival salesman's outfit, standing outside the gates to the White House in front of a sign advertising one night for $50,000, two nights for $100,000, and so on. "Step right up! Get your tickets to the Lincoln Bedroom," Bubba is barking.

What's Hefley going to do now that Clinton is out of office? "It dries the well," acknowledges his spokeswoman, Sarah Shelden. "I'm sure others will step up to the plate and give him plenty of ideas, though. It is sort of a cathartic way to deal with congressional life and throw some humor into certain situations."

One Washington character whom Hefley probably won't be taking on is Colorado's contribution to the George Dubya Bush cabinet: new Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. But the former Colorado attorney general is getting plenty of ink, anyway -- from the poison pen of Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, who's recently been making fun of the department's renewed efforts to find oil and natural gas in every corner of the wilderness.

But while Trudeau's strip is carried in thousands of papers, Hefley's cartooning is strictly a hobby. So where can you see his handiwork? Not on his Web site: Hefley doesn't have one. In fact, he's reportedly the only member of Congress who has yet to make his presence known on the Web. Although Shelden is currently working on developing some sort of site -- "ideally, by this spring," she says -- none of the plans are firm. In the meantime, a selection of Hefley's drawings can be found at goptoday.com, the Web site for Americans for a Republican Majority (ARMPAC), a political action committee that raises money for House GOP candidates.

And who can we expect Hefley to mock next? "There is always something or someone up here who you can satirize," says Shelden.

No joke.

 
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