Brandon MacGillis, communications director for Congresswoman Diana DeGette, insists that his boss understood the risks when she agreed to be interviewed by Stephen Colbert for the 25th in a series of interviews with all of the United States representatives for The Colbert Report. "She knows the show and watches it," MacGillis says. "Not religiously, but she's very well aware of it, and knew going in not to fall into the classic traps he sets."
Nevertheless, Colbert managed to trap DeGette on several occasions during her "Better Know a District" segment, which debuted on June 22 -- the week after Colorado's quarter made its appearance at the Denver Mint, an august occasion that did not go unnoticed by Colbert. In addition to being home to the largest money-maker in the country, the Comedy Central star noted, "Denver boasts one of the nation's largest populations of single people and brews more beer than any other city in the U.S. Combine those two, and you have more walks of shame on Sunday morning than anywhere else." He also revealed that the champion steer from each year's National Western Stock Show "is brought to the Brown Palace Hotel, where he drinks water from a silver bowl -- and then it's up to the Presidential Suite for a night of noisy animal husbandry."
Introduction over, Colbert threw a curveball at DeGette: "Are you a member of the Mile High Club?"
"No," she said.
"If you'd like to be a member of the Mile High Club, I can hook you up with some people," he continued.
"Get me the application," DeGette replied, "and I'll see what the requirements are."
"Okay. I think they're pretty simple," Colbert responded -- then turned to face the camera, an I-can't-believe-anyone-could-be-that-clueless expression on his face.
Later in the segment, DeGette seemed unsure if she'd sponsored a bill to protect Asian elephants -- "Do you just protect foreign animals willy-nilly?" Colbert wondered -- and was maneuvered into an exchange about a possible Condoleezza Rice presidential bid.
Colbert: "So you don't think qualified people should be president just because she's a woman?"
DeGette: "I don't, I don't think -- that's right."
Still, MacGillis gives DeGette high marks for her performance. "My overall sense was one of relief," he maintains. "I mean, it's Stephen Colbert. He's cut to shreds so many other members of Congress. If the only thing people say is, 'Does she really not know what the Mile High Club is?,' I'll take it and laugh."
Along with the rest of her constituents.
Reach for the stars: A delegation from the Democratic National Committee hit town last week to evaluate whether Denver should be the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth was instrumental in putting together the bid, a ten-pound pitch that went off to the DNC last month and earned Denver finalist status. The other cities still in the running are Minneapolis, New Orleans and New York City -- and judging from an item that appeared on page six of the New York Post on June 21, the DNC's first morning in Denver, the Big Apple is pulling out the big guns:
"The local Democratic machine turned out its heavy hitters the other night to convince Democratic National Committee exec director Tom McMahon that New York is the best place to hold the party's national convention next summer. The lobbyists at Rockefeller Center's Top of the Rock observation deck included Jessica Seinfeld, Charlie Gibson, Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal, David Dinkins, Mario Cuomo and Barbara Walters, who vowed she'd take McMahon out after the party and get him loaded...."
Although the DNC frowns on one contender denigrating another, at least Denver knows that the next Democratic convention to nominate a presidential candidate will be in the summer of 2008 -- not next year. And the Top of the Rock can't hold a candle to being on top of the Rockies...or even in the foothills at the Fort, where the DNC reps dined Wednesday night after a few of them made a quick, helicopter fly-by of Red Rocks. (Not a Widespread Panic groupie in sight, fortunately; Denver has enough of a Deadhead/jam-band rep as it is.)
And what the celebrity-starved Denver lacks in star power -- although former senator Gary Hart, who addressed the dinner group, might counter Cuomo, and a Wellington Webb drop-in outweighed Dinkins, where was Survivor star/Playboy poser/LoDo barrista Ami Cusack to balance out the Seinfeld spouse? -- we more than make up for with alcoholic opportunities. (See Stephen Colbert item above.) No telling how long McMahon would have to drink to get a snootful with Walters, all the while hearing about The View and the loss of panty-fearing Meredith Viera to Katie Couric's old Today slot, and whatever Star Jones did to lose that weight. Meanwhile, here in the Mile High City, liquor works quicker.
That selling point alone should be enough to win Denver top honors. As for the remaining competitors, a single word about the Twin Cities: mosquitoes. And while New Orleans has sentimentality going for it, this city's strong in that suit, too: The last time the Democratic Party held a national convention in Denver was in 1908, at the then-brand-spanking-new (and now brand-spanking remodeled) Auditorium Theatre.
And a century ago, city boosters were probably already lamenting Denver's lack of star power -- and the fact that this city had a reputation for being a cowtown.
Declaration of Independence: If the Democratic National Convention comes to Denver, it will want to steer clear of the Independence Institute, the Golden-based free-market think tank that provided such a platform for Tom Tancredo and has been headed by Jon "Quotemeister" Caldara since Tancredo left to run for the U.S. House of Representatives back in 1998. (Can't wait to catch Tom the Tank's interview with Colbert!) Because when Caldara and company decide to do "shooters," they aren't talking Tuaca. Well, not only Tuaca.
At last Saturday's annual Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Party (motto: "Slam It, Smoke It, Shoot It"), dozens of the Institute faithful gathered at the Kiowa Creek Sporting Club to shoot the breeze and clay pigeons, smoke cigars (only six days until this nannyist state outlaws that activity indoors, and God only knows how long before tobacco products go up in smoke entirely), swill beer and harder stuff (but only after shooting), and listen to Jay Ambrose, former editor of the Rocky Mountain News, where he earned the nickname "Mr. Ed." Standing at a makeshift podium (topped by a box stamped "Made in China"), Ambrose took aim at the liberal media, saying he could count on his fingers (and maybe toes) the number of conservative journalists he'd met during his three decades in the business. Where there's smoke, there's ire.
Best sight gag of the day: the Ann Coulter doll presented to the sharpest shooter.
The cold facts on Colfax: Last month's Colfax Marathon may have put the five-year-old City Park Festival of the Arts down, but it's not out altogether. After giving up his annual slot at City Park to make room for the May 21 run, organizer Paul Weiss wasn't sure if he would resurrect the homegrown arts fest (Off Limits, May 18). But last week he came to his senses and rescheduled the event for Saturday, September 9, on the Esplanade at East High School. Explains Weiss, "We believe that Denver needs a venue for local artists to show together with cooperation and unity, and that by doing so, we can help stimulate a market for local artists."
Now he just needs those local artists to sign up. Weiss has put out a call for entries on his website, www.cityparkfestival.org; he's looking for buskers, businesses, artists who want to demonstrate their talents and artists who want to sell their wares. Fees vary, but one rule is a constant: Everything must be produced locally, and by hand.
We'll clap to that.
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Over at 2239 East Colfax, the Bank Bar and Grill had been pretty vocal about its support of locals; in fact, signs at the popular watering hole pronounced that the Bank "reserves the right to refuse service to anyone without a valid Colorado State ID" -- a policy occasionally enforced during Sunday's crowded, $2 you-call-it special (Off Limits, June 1). But a couple of weeks ago, in a geographically friendly move, the Bank removed the sign. Drink up, transplants: Who knows how long detente will last?
Also feeling friendly is Master's Bible Church, the elegant structure at 1477 Columbine Street, which posted a sign welcoming the Tattered Cover to the neighborhood when the bookstore opened Monday in the Lowenstein Theater. (Trivia-buff bonus: The Lowenstein was formerly known as the Bonfils Theater, until the Denver Center for the Performing Arts made that the name of the Denver Center Theatre Company's main stage -- since one of the stipulations in Helen Bonfils's bequest that made the DCPA possible was that there always be a Bonfils Theater, and the future of the original facility on Colfax looked dim for decades.) But the church may not be a neighbor for long: It's put the 77-year-old, 19,528-square-foot building up for sale, at a whopping $3,220,000.
Scene and herd: Even as Colfax evolves, some sights remain the same. This past Monday night, an Off Limits operative spotted Jill Russell -- a veteran of the strip who's been picked up for prostitution at least fifteen times since 1992, most notably after giving then-Rockie Denny Neagle a $40 blow job -- hopping into a van a few blocks west of the Lowenstein. Last month, Russell failed to appear in Jefferson County Court on the prostitution charge she netted from the Neagle encounter; there's now a warrant out for her arrest.
Clearly, the authorities haven't staked out Colfax.