By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
The Texas Fourteen consisted of President-select George Dubya Bush's Cabinet nominees, including two with Colorado connections: Gale Norton, a lawyer with Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber and former state attorney general, and Linda Chavez, a two-bit political commentator and former Denver resident. Although she faced initial opposition and was slapped with the nickname "James Watt in a skirt," Norton is now the Secretary of the Interior. Chavez, on the other hand, is still a two-bit political commentator who can only say she was once nominated to be the Secretary of Labor.
Chavez gave up that nomination after it was revealed that she'd allowed an illegal Guatemalan immigrant named Marta Mercado to live in her basement in 1992 and 1993; Mercado claimed that she did household chores for Chavez in return. Harboring illegal aliens is not exactly the kind of thing that a labor secretary nominee should be doing, especially a nominee who is already hated by most Democratic special-interest groups and their political representatives in Congress. Chavez, after all, is anti-labor, anti-bilingual education, anti-minimum wage and anti-affirmative action.
The mini-scandal didn't dampen the spirits of Colorado Republicans, however; after eight years of watching President Bill Clinton sashay his way around the White House, they were finally able to celebrate one of their own. And so a whole host of GOP faithful dusted off their tuxedos, ironed the creases out of their evening gowns and Texas-two-stepped their way to Washington, D.C., for Bush's January 20 inauguration. The list was headed by our governor -- ex-Texan Bill Owens-- and his family; Lieutenant Governor Joe Rogers and his family; businessman, Republican party activist and former gubernatorial candidate Bruce Benson and his wife, Marcy; Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski and his wife, Julie; housing über-developer Larry Mizel; state senator Ken Chlouber of Leadville; House Speaker Doug Dean of Colorado Springs; and a Coors family contingent. Somehow, they all made it into one party or another.
Bush, who'd already shown Colorado how much our state matters by skipping us entirely during his campaign stumping, thanked these top GOPs by waiting until August to grace us with his presence, and then only for 24 hours. During that busy day, Bush visited Rocky Mountain National Park to pitch his wildfire protection plan and pose for rugged photo ops, hosted a million-dollar fundraiser for Owens and Senator Wayne Allard, and attended part of a Colorado Rockies game. Thanks, George. Hell, even Vice President Dick Cheney lasted a couple of days in Colorado -- even if he spent them fishing at the exclusive Wigwam Club near Deckers.
But the President's trip was long enough for Longmont entrepreneur John Fischer (another ex-Texan) to get himself arrested by the Secret Service and charged with disturbing the peace. One of many protesters who weren't allowed to get anywhere near Bush during his Rocky Mountain high, Fischer handed out sample rolls of toilet paper he sells online that feature a picture of the president along with the words "Bush Wipe." Fischer also sells versions with Cheney ("Dick Wipe"), Secretary of State Colin Powell ("Colin Wipe"), and Attorney General John Ashcroft ("Ash Wipe"), as well as anti-Bush bumper stickers, T-shirts and other paraphernalia.
Witnesses told Estes Park police that Fischer, who had wrapped his body in toilet paper, was encouraging people to throw their rolls at the president's motorcade. He denied the charge, but the ensuing national attention sparked a major business boom.
Way to go, and go again, John.
In March, the first 2000 census figures were released, offering an explanation for why there seem to be so many more people milling about, from the drive-through line at Krispy Kreme to the checkout line at the Gap to the chairlift line at Vail. In fact, the census provided 276 explanations per day -- which is how many people moved here every 24 hours in the 1990s.
All told, Colorado grew by 1,006,867 people in the '90s to reach a population of 4.3 million, making it the third-fastest-growing state in the nation. Denver added 87,000 residents, while Superior grew in size from 255 to 9,011 -- an increase of 3,434 percent! Another major rise involved the Hispanic population, which surged by 73 percent, or 311,000 people. (Attention, Dan Issel! Attention, Dan Issel!) About 17 percent of the state's current residents are of Hispanic descent.
Among the other fascinating facts we learned about ourselves: One out of every fifty households has five or more cars; one out of every eight homes has nine or more rooms; there were twelve Coloradans in 2000 who had already lived to be at least 110 years old; Aurora has more people (276,393 and growing -- a 24 percent increase since 1990) than Orlando, Birmingham and Newark; if Highlands Ranch were a town, it would be the state's thirteenth-largest, with 70,931 covenant-protected people; 600 new lofts, apartments and condos were created in LoDo in the last decade, with 2,225 people now living in the area.
Colorado politicos, always desperate for attention, will get something they wanted out of this numbers game: another voice in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because of Colorado's growing population, the state is set to have seven congresspeople -- although deciding what part of Colorado that seventh person will be elected from could take quite a while.