Douglas Bruce's Legislative Debut Is a Real Kick

Douglas Bruce began his career as a Colorado representative with his best foot forward. On January 14, the pride of Colorado Springs booted Rocky Mountain News photographer Javier Manzano for the sin of snapping a shot of him during the state house's morning prayer. The kick, as captured on video, wasn't especially impressive from a strength-and-power perspective -- the Broncos' Jason Elam can rest easy -- but it could hardly have been more hilarious. In the Rocky's January 15 article about the incident, editor/publisher/president John Temple delivered one righteous quote after another, declaring at one point that "for a person to believe that he can provide a lesson in decorum by kicking another human being is unfathomable." But deep down, he has to be delighted that Bruce has taken office. The legislature hasn't seen a representative more likely to blow a gasket since the halcyon days of Tom Tancredo and the so-called House Crazies.

Of course, this was hardly Bruce's first wacky moment of spotlight time. Over the years, Westword has tracked his adventures with special pleasure, as the following archive demonstrates.

A good place to begin is an August 1994 Off-Limits item filled with revelations about the redoubtable Mr. Bruce, including his decision to launch a challenge against the IRS after "claiming that the care and feeding of himself, his girlfriend, her son and their dog was a business deduction. He lost this argument in U.S. Tax Court in 1982.

Next up is a February 1995 column in which Bruce claimed that authorities who censured him for the deplorable conditions of several properties he owned had attacked him because of his anti-tax crusades. "I'm a victim," he declared.

Bruce victimized himself later that year, as pointed out in this December 1995 roundup. After being sent to jail for contempt of court, he "staged a brief hunger strike, vowing not to shower, shave or eat solid food until his release."

By the time of this October 1999 feature, Bruce was back in fighting trim, battling a highway plan proposed by then-Governor Bill Owens. By the following January, when this story saw print, Bruce was pushing a tax-cut ballot initiative in his usual quixotic manner; he claimed "to have submitted 180 different versions of his tax cut to state ballot title officials since 1995." Shortly thereafter, in this February 2000 column, Bruce's conflict with Secretary of State Gigi Dennis took center stage. Dennis, whose bill proposing limits on citizens' right to petition seemed created with Dougie in mind, interpreted something Bruce said to her as a threat and subsequently suggested that he "might be in need of mental-health counseling." Hmmmm.

A May 2002 offering about Bruce's continuing battles with the "property police" featured more sterling examples of wit and wisdom; he ranted against "bastard idiot lying crooks." He moved on to budgetary matters in time for a January 2003 report -- but in 2006, he put the focus on his personal life, as documented in a May Message column. He posted a personal ad on a dating website under the heading "'Leave It To Beaver' Traditionalist Seeks Mate." A reporter from the High Plains Messenger site responded and documented her sit-down with the man himself at a Johnny Carino's restaurant. Afterward, Bruce was upset about the illustration that accompanied her tell-all -- "It made me look like a fat midget," he said -- and less than complimentary about the reporter. He described her as "a homely, skinny woman with bad teeth."

Then again, she got off easier than that Rocky photographer. After all, he paid for dinner. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts