Where's the Rest of Him?

Nothing's sticking to the Teflon president.

He offered more than that, of course. Joe Coors had started the Heritage Foundation in 1973, and his family's company provided the think tank with $250,000 during its first year, and much more in the years to come. Paul Weyrich, the foundation's first president, went on to found, with Coors, the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, and also to coin the term "moral majority." In 1980, the Heritage Foundation published the Mandate for Leadership, a guide for the Reagan transition team.

From his perch in the Kitchen Cabinet -- which eventually had to move out of the Executive Office Building across from the White House because of pesky conflict-of-interest concerns -- Coors pushed such Coloradans as Anne Gorsuch to head the Environmental Protection Agency, her soon-to-be husband Bob Burford to head the Bureau of Land Management, and James Watt of the Denver-based Mountain States Legal Foundation to become Secretary of the Interior (a post now held by Coloradan and Watt mentee Gale Norton). "We have every kind of mix you can have," Watt said of his Interior employees in 1983. "I have a black, I have a woman, two Jews and a cripple."

Throw in environmentalists, Hispanics, labor and gays, and you have most of the groups that were boycotting Coors beer at the time, largely because of Joe Coors's politics. (There was also that matter of a 1977 strike at the Golden plant.) "He was conservative as they come," Bill Coors said of his brother. "I mean, he was a little bit right of Attila the Hun." To separate Coors beer from Coors politics, the company began funneling money to Heritage through the Adolph Coors Foundation; in 1993, the conservative Castle Rock Foundation split off from that Coors foundation and took over any funding of Heritage and Free Congress. Today, company profits no longer go to either foundation -- although members of the Coors family are free to donate to whomever, and whatever, they want.

It took more than a decade to turn around Coors Brewing Company's image -- and that the effort was successful was largely due to the hard work of Peter Coors, son of Joe, who was named vice chairman and chief executive officer of the company in 1993, then chairman nine years later. Coors had put a non-discrimination policy in place in 1978 that included sexual orientation; in 1995 it introduced domestic-partner benefits that made the brewery one of the most worker-friendly companies in Colorado. Scott Coors, cousin of Pete, serves as a liaison with the gay community; Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, once held the same role. The company sponsors events geared to minority audiences across the country; it even hosts Key West's Fantasy Fest. And while calls for beer boycotts occasionally bubble back up, Coors is now sold in gay bars across the country. The company even reaffirmed its pro-gay-rights stance last month.

It did so because Pete Coors isn't the acting chairman of Coors right now: He's running for U.S. Senate. And with Bob Schaffer also in the race, Coors is sounding less like the guy who appreciates a good beer along with good workers and more like his father. Say it ain't so, Joe.

Nothing sticks to the Teflon president, but Colorado can't shake his legacy.

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