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CBS Legal Eagle Andrew Cohen Takes on a Top Republican Fundraiser

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Denver-based attorney and past Westword profile subject Andrew Cohen is a rarity -- a TV legal expert who brings class and smarts to a role that's often filled by ranters and screamers. No wonder he's been a regular presence on CBS's weeknightly newscast through the equivalent of three administrations, regularly chatting on the air with Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer and current anchor Katie Couric about issues of national concern.

However, Cohen gets surprisingly local in a November 20 entry for a blog that appears on the Couric & Co. portion of the CBS site. In the item, he attacks a well-connected columnist for The Villager, an Arapahoe County newspaper, for offhandedly using the term "homo."

The item's author, Mort Marks, who's in his early eighties, is a major Republican Party fundraiser with lots of powerful pals. As such, Cohen was surprised that he would casually tell an in-print joke that ended with the punchline, "Two hookers and a homo." Moreover, he was flat-out appalled by the responses he received when he called to complain. The Villager's Geri Sweeney defended publishing the failed bon mot by claiming that the paper doesn't censor columnists, and Marks himself told Cohen to grow up and lighten up.

Granted, Marks isn't running for anything -- but he's got plenty of powerful pals who've held or continue to hold elective office. Cohen's essay includes a link to a September 2006 offering by Rocky Mountain News scribe Penny Parker about a Marks roast featuring participants such as Bill Owens, Bob Beauprez, John Andrews, Tom Tancredo and Mike Coffman, who's already announced his intention to run for Tancredo's Congressional seat in 2008.

The district Coffman wants to represent is safely Republican. Even so, mighty few contemporary politicians would want to be seen accepting cash from a guy who loves reeling off hookers-and-homo gags. For that reason, Coffman and other conservatives can't be happy that Cohen is using his national megaphone to denounce one of their most reliable money men. -- Michael Roberts

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