Colorado congressman Scott McInnis has made quite a splash recently, jumping headfirst into the media frenzy over Representative Gary Condit and missing intern Chandra Levy. As anyone with a pulse knows, the married Condit had apparently been playing House with Levy before her disappearance, then lied to the police about the depth of his involvement with that woman. The cable networks have treated the unfolding scandal as a summertime serial (the perfect way to boost ratings during a slow news season), and the ambitious McInnis -- he's had his eye on a run for the U.S. Senate for some time but has had to wait for Ben Nighthorse Campbell to get bored -- has taken advantage of the story to raise his national profile. Late last month he called for Condit's resignation and demanded that Congress approve a rule prohibiting relationships between interns and members of Congress.
Although several of his fellow Republicans have mocked the proposal -- Representative Joel Hefley of Colorado Springs called it "a feel-good way to get publicity" -- McInnis hasn't backed down. "I've got two daughters of Levy's age, and if it happened to one of them, I'd have my hands around Condit's neck," he recently told a reporter. The crusading congressman even got a mention in the Washington Post, where a gossip columnist said McInnis should be awarded a "sterling chastity belt with oak leaf cluster" in recognition of his new role as Washington, D.C.'s top morality cop.
But all of this puritanical posturing has raised eyebrows among Colorado politicos who've known McInnis for a while and remember his reputation as a ladies' man when he was a (single) lawmaker in the Colorado General Assembly. "When I read in the paper that he's now a devout Catholic, I couldn't believe it," says one former legislative staffer who worked at the Statehouse in the 1980s. "He was young and frisky, and he developed a bit of a reputation." McInnis's eye for interns was so notorious, in fact, that his Democratic colleagues lampooned him in the 1983 version of the annual Hummers show put on by the House minority party. The ditty goes to the tune of "Jack and Jill":
Scottie McInnis went to the Hill
To play with all the interns.
Scottie got caught.
Shaped up for naught.
We'll get him with election returns.
McInnis was re-elected the next year, though, and in 1992 he moved on to D.C. -- where no one in his office, staffer or intern, returned a phone call from Westword seeking comment.
Road show: The sad current state of political sleaze makes you long for the days when politicians got into trouble for what came out of their mouths, not where they put them.
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Where's Richard Lamm when you need him?
Well, if you were looking for Colorado's former governor last Saturday night, you'd have found both Dick and Dottie at the tiny Trixi's Antler Saloon in the Montana burg of Ovando (slogan: "We don't have a town drunk. We take turns"), just down the road from Lincoln, onetime home of the Unabomber, and just a little bit farther down the road from the summer home of Stephen Ambrose, historian (Undaunted Courage, Citizen Soldiers) and former Lamm roomie. Also dining with the Lamms and Ambroses was George McGovern, the former presidential candidate whose biggest sin was winning only one state, and who is the subject of Ambrose's next big book.
Although the location was surprising, Lamm's highbrow group was not. After all, when the then-guv was featured in Playboy, it was for his controversial stands on "hard choices," not his hot pursuit of interns.