Cory Gardner: Is he a closeted ram handler?

Republican congressional candidate Cory Gardner may have a very colorful skeleton in his closet: As a student at Colorado State University, it appears he was an official Ram Handler, one of the chosen few in charge of primping and pimping the school's official mascot, CAM the Ram.

If that's the case, the big question that remains isn't why did he do such a thing -- but instead, why does he now seem to be hiding it?

I scored the tip a few weeks ago. "Cory Gardner was a ram handler!" whispered an anonymous source, making the words "ram handler" sound as dirty and inappropriate as possible. After I'd recovered from an adolescent fit of giggling, I got down to work with my crack investigative skills -- i.e., I Googled it.

Sure enough, a single relevant page seemed to confirm the rumor: A 2007 article in CSU's Rocky Mountain Collegian that's no longer available but apparently, according to Google's cache feature, contained the line, "Cory Gardner, a Colorado State Representative and former Ram Handler, said his time with CAM was great."

In other words, not only was Cory a Ram Handler -- grooming his fluffy coat, trotting him around at football games, feeding him piles of alfalfa -- but he also apparently enjoyed it! DUM-DUM-DUM!

With my dirt in hand, next I came up with some pointed CAM questions:

• What does CAM stand for? (Colorado A&M, CSU's previous name.) • What breed of domesticated sheep is CAM? (Rambouillet.) • How many teeth does CAM have? (Eight on the bottom, none on top.)

Finally, it was time to go straight to the source. I called Gardner's campaign headquarters and said I wanted to speak with the main man himself -- about some ram handling.

The guy on the other end didn't seem too phased. He even noted that he'd heard the rumor about Gardner's ram handling before. But Gardner would have to get back to me about it, he said, taking my number and promising a response.


I waited three days, then called again. Another rep took my message and vanished into the ether. After more than a week had passed since the first attempt, I made one last, indignant call.

"No one has responded to my questions about ram handling!" I whined to the woman on the other end. It's not as if the candidate has anything better to do, like say, dealing with prominent campaign supporters who've been spouting incendiary comments about the president and race. Clearly, Gardner wasn't taking my story seriously... or maybe he had something to hide about his relationship with CAM!

I gave this third Gardner campaign worker an ultimatum. Either Gardner called me back within 24 hours or I'd be going public about his apparent shenanigans with a fluffy little friend.

"Sure, whatever" responded the woman. Clearly she, too, wasn't taking my threat seriously. Although now they'll all live to regret it, since nothing is going to stop me from shouting my discovery to the world:

Cory Gardner was a ram handler!

Not as if there's anything wrong with that.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner