A Louse in the House

Doug Bruce stars in the newest reality TV show.

I'm on to you, Colorado House of Representatives, you sly dogs, you. Check and mate, you pack of ruddy-faced bastards. Oh, don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. You look so ugly when you play innocent, and as a collective whole, you're in no position to engage in any activity that makes you look even less attractive. You're fugly, Colorado House of Reps, no two ways about it.

But I've got to say, in the long history of marketing campaigns, for sheer brilliance, yours falls somewhere between that Blair Witch trick, when everyone thought it was a real documentary, and Where's the Beef? You arrange to start broadcasting your proceedings as Colorado Open House on the Colorado Channel (www.coloradochannel.net and Comcast's Channel 165), and one week before you go live — surprise! — there's a scandal in the House? Sheeeeit. I've seen enough reality TV to know that's part of the game, baby. Some show involving a web-whore named Tila Tequila premieres on MTV, and the network drops the bomb that she's a tranny; new season of Flavor of Love comes out and VH1 announces that this season, Flav's actually going to fuck a dog. It's called the shock factor, people, and it's part of putting asses in seats, a lesson that the Colorado House has learned all too well. Its method of getting viewers to tune in: having a crusty almost-representative kick a photographer.

Jackpot!

According to a transcript that I made up, here's how that whole scenario came down.

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff: Okay, everybody, we all know that we're going live on January 21, and we need some fireworks to start things off. Who's got any ideas?

House Minority Leader Mike May: How about '70s throwback day when we all dress disco like that "Sensual Seduction" video by Snoop?

Romanoff: Mike, for the last time, quit bringing up Snoop in session. Anyone else?

Soon-to-be-sworn-in Representative Doug Bruce: Hey, I'm old and curmudgeonly and from Colorado Springs, so no one likes me anyway — what if I act like a dickhead and make myself the villain this season?

Romanoff: See, that's what I'm fucking talking about! Good work, D. Brizzle. What did you have in mind?

Bruce: How about something kind of hinting at senility, like kicking a press photographer and then spouting off how it's no biggie?

Romanoff: Yes, yes, yes! Good work, everyone. Now let's all go swill gin and wish we were senators. Meeting adjourned!

And true to his fictional word, Doug Bruce showed up for work on January 14 and proceeded to Ronaldinho a Rocky Mountain News photographer during the morning prayer. Bruce wasn't even an official rep yet — he was to be sworn in after the prayer — but he just couldn't wait to get his kick on! That's how you grab ratings — and a vote to be censured by your colleagues.

Reality-TV sucker that I am, I tuned into the Colorado Channel on January 22, the day after it debuted, to watch Bruce defend his actions. My favorite part was when he said there were many examples of physical contact at the Capitol every day, including emphatic poking of chests and shoulders. But he failed to describe any of those other examples, so I got to imagine all sorts of wacky "physical contact" between lawmakers, such as chest bumps, arm-wrestling and Ass-Slap Thursdays. Bruce continued to stammer and sputter and assert how kicking a photographer really wasn't all that bad and there was no reason for the House to officially censure him, seeing as it had never censured a representative in the Colorado Legislature's 131-year history.

And then the House nearly unanimously censured his ass, and a Season One highlight was born. The Real World: House of Representatives had found its Puck.

But when lawmakers began discussing actual bills — like HB 1094, "Concerning reimbursement for services provided by advanced practice nurses under the Colorado Medical Assistance Act" — I was so bored that blood began to flow freely from my ears and eyes. After Bruce's censure, my only enjoyment came from realizing that the House is a lot like elementary school: Representatives continually have to be told to quiet the fuck down, and then everyone goes to recess. Other than that, total dullsville.

If you want this show to fly, Colorado House, you're going to have to step it up. I suggest having two reps hook up, then break up, and drag their sordid affair across the show every day. Or everybody could get drunk and someone could utter a racial slur, which usually makes for good reality-TV drama. And then, of course, there's always big daddy Doug Bruce. He's proven himself a breakout star, so why not use him again? Get him to do some crazy shit, like rip the head off a duck or bitch-slap a cleaning lady or something. But do it soon. Because otherwise, your boring show is just going to waste valuable broadband space.

Space that could be used for pornography.

 
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