How the West is run: Yee-haw! Colorado's 1996 campaign is shaping up to be quite a horse race. The latest to explore a bid is Wes McKinley, rancher, trail guide, cowboy poet and foreman of the state's first special grand jury, convened in 1989 to investigate alleged environmental crimes at Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. The Justice Department disbanded the jury two years later, refusing to indict the eight individuals the jurors found culpable. But McKinley can't talk about that. Like the rest of the grand jurors, he's officially gagged--a condition that leaves him champing at the bit. So when McKinley hits town November 1 for a gathering at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, where he'll explore a race for Wayne Allard's congressional seat, he'll have to content himself with reciting a few poems, playing the guitar and shooting the breeze--not the bad guys.
Allard, of course, is leaving the House to make a run for the U.S. Senate. And he isn't the sole Republican to eye that prize. Not only is Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton a contender, but at a meeting of the National Militia Commanders Council last month in Texas, state senator Charles Duke said that he, too, might be in the running. Not that he wanted to share anything with the media--Duke refused to speak to the confab until he was assured that the press had been kicked off the premises. Cameras and microphones remained, however, and captured this: "When I am asked by the media, `Tell me about your contacts with the militia,' I say, `I don't even know anybody in the militia.' So you're going to hear me say that. You're going to hear me deny that you exist or that you're a problem or any of those other things...I felt that no matter what we do here, it's going to be misconstrued in Colorado."
Tapes of the meeting went on sale last week.
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Counter intelligence: The dailies will soon be playing the numbers game with a vengeance, since their six-month circulation tallies are due any day now. (Early rumors have the Denver Post continuing to gain.) In the meantime, however, plenty of people are keeping count. For example, there are the mysterious Counters of Colorado, who've made it their peculiar mission to track how many times Rocky Mountain News TV columnist Dusty Saunders has used the word "controversial." According to the Counters, Saunders "is about to break a little-known, but significant, record for `controversies' in a career"--at an average of two a column, 250 columns a year, that makes 10,000 "controversies" since 1975. As evidence, the group offers a pack of clips from the last few years: a 1993 story on the Thorn Birds, which includes six "controversies," and a five-controversy piece on the recurringly "controversial" NYPD Blue. Saunders, bemused by all the attention, pleads guilty. Book 'im.
Over at the Denver Post, folks are keeping track of all that mail to Chuck Green over those dearly departed poisoned dogs, Snowy and Keko. Clearly, Green has been minding ex-Post editor Gil Spencer, who recently wrote that if newspaper columnists want to get a rise out of readers, they should write about pet pooches.
More pet peeves: Time to say so long to Klondike and Snow, the polar bear cubs who passed cuddly a long time ago. Even the TV stations seemed to be tiring of the beat last week. (Not enough controversy, perhaps?) After a report by national correspondent Roger O'Neill on Thursday, NBC's Tom Brokaw turned to the camera and told the audience that he was going to resist the opportunity to joke about "barely being able to tolerate that story."
Now he tells us.