Big Bang Theory

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After Bowlen cemented his deal with the legislature by penning a handwritten letter agreeing to use minorities in construction, team lobbyist Porter Wharton felt the urge to do a little affectionate butt-slapping in the halls of the Capitol. Wharton turned to state senator/ Bowlen lap dog Ed Perlmutter and gushed, "Would it be inappropriate if I hugged you?" A few hugs and squeezes later, lawmakers announced that they "weren't concerned" at all about reports that three companies owned by Bowlen went bankrupt in 1989, along with two banks he owned.

The only thing sadder than Bowlen's tale of woe was that of Ascent Entertainment, the owner of the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche. The corporate conglomerate continued to poor-mouth the City of Denver over the cost of the proposed Pepsi Center, even as it raised prices on its world-champion hockey team, prompting Mayor Wellington Webb to contemptuously swig from a can of Coca-Cola at a press conference. Alleged financial troubles also afflicted the Elitch Gardens amusement park, which was sold to an Oklahoma company only two years after its much-ballyhooed relocation to downtown from north Denver. Park boss Sandy Gurtler predicted great things for the park under the Okie ownership, including flashy new rides and possibly even some shade trees. But Gurtler said little about the $14 million subsidy taxpayers approved for the park in 1989 after being wooed with the advertising slogan "Vote for Elitch's--It's Denver!"

The state's ski industry, meanwhile, was morphing into a monolithic entity the size and temperament of the abominable snowman. Vail Resorts, Inc., announced a $300 million plan to absorb rivals Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, prompting the U.S. Justice Department to send investigators into the mountains to size up the beast. Vail hired legendary Denver fixers Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Strickland to help it close the deal--and skiers who'd already seen Vail raise its lift ticket to $50 figured they stood to take it in the shorts. They responded the only way they knew how: by decorating the resort's "underwear tree" with an especially colorful display of intimate apparel. Not to be outdone, Beaver Creek unveiled its own brief encounter, a display of designer undies not seen in the hills since MTV rolled into Steamboat Springs for a mountain bacchanal.

It was rough going this year for members of the U.S. cycling team, who toted the Olympic torch across the scorching plains of eastern Colorado on its long journey to Atlanta. Too bad the cyclists didn't have time to drop by CU's Boulder campus to give safety tips to the Buffs' football players. Three of the gridiron stars made headlines off the field when a campus police officer saw them riding their bikes without lights at night. When Officer Friendly told them to dismount and walk the bikes home, Coach Neuheisel's glee club refused, prompting the officer to call for backup and sending the campus into a tizzy.

Denver police played a little two-hand touch of their own with former Bronco cornerback Mike Harden after hearing him doing color commentary on a radio broadcast of the Carolina Panthers exhibition game. It seems the cops had been looking for Harden, who was wanted on a warrant for disturbing the peace. But don't be too hard on Harden. This year, not even Santa Claus was able to keep his nose clean. Down in the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility, an inmate dressed as Kris Kringle for a holiday party was grabbed by guards after another con passed him a gift-wrapped bundle of cocaine and marijuana. It was left to a Department of Corrections investigator to deliver the sorry news to the revelers: "I've already opened my presents, but unfortunately for you, Santa Claus is going to jail tonight.

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