Off Limits

Denver Guardian Angel founder Sebastian Metz must have a guardian angel of his own. After surviving 24 hours of open-heart surgery on January 4, Metz has finally come out of a coma and is slowly healing.

Last fall, just six weeks before his son, Rook, was born, Metz was diagnosed with several rare heart defects -- so rare and severe, in fact, that doctors at Stanford University Hospital were surprised that Metz had lived past childhood. But as of this week, it looks as if he'll live to see his own son grow up.

"The ups and downs have been massive," writes Shauna Strecker, Metz's wife, on her blog updating his status. "I have faced my worst fears over and over again, and Sebastian pulls through every time. This should never surprise me -- even when the neurologist tells me different." Horn of a dilemma: Myths about the unicorn are as plentiful as the animal is rare. Now a group of University of Denver law school students are out to change that ratio.

The mythical unicorn is modeled on a rare breed of African antelope, the scimitar-horned oryx. Legend has it that thousands of years ago, Egyptians bound the horns of the animal together so that they'd grow into a single horn. Hunted since the Europeans invaded Africa, these days the oryx is more abundant on Texas game ranches than in its Saharan homeland. Hunters drop big bucks to be driven to a range where they can easily shoot themselves a trophy or two. Some Texas companies even plan to let hunter wannabes pull the trigger anywhere in the world via the Internet.

The DU group just wants to pull the plug.

Back in 1991, the oryx was proposed as an addition to the federal endangered-species list. (For more on the Endangered Species Act, see David Holthouse's "Building a Better Mousetrap," page 19.) More than thirteen years later, environmentalists are still waiting -- with Colorado's own Gale Norton the most recent Secretary of the Interior to ignore the animal.

And time is running short, according to Jay Tutchton, director of DU's Environmental Law Clinic, since only about thirty oryx remain in Senegal. Tutchton's DU crew will file a motion for summary judgment in the case by January 24, requesting immediate action. Norton must respond to their brief by February 7 -- or she could be endangering her own position as a political animal.

On The Record

Now that Ben Nighthorse Campbell is out of the Senate, Representative Tom Tancredo easily ranks as Colorado's most colorful member of Congress. He's an equal-opportunity offender, pissing off politicos on both the right and the left. Off Limits caught up with him before he headed off to Washington, D.C., to start his fourth term.

Q: Your name has been mentioned lately in connection with Hillary Clinton and her new emphasis on immigration reform. What's between you two?

A: So far, a lot of space. People ask if I'm going to be her vice-presidential candidate. The question they should be asking is, would I ask her to be my vice-presidential candidate? And the answer is no.

The truth is this: I intend to do anything I can do to make immigration an issue in the next presidential election -- especially if it has not been dealt with up until that time. And if that means going around the country, firing up the troops, I absolutely will do that. I would never be a serious candidate for president on one issue; that is not a serious candidacy. I do not intend to be the Dennis Kucinich of the Republican Party.

If I go to New Hampshire -- which I am, next month, for an immigration reform group -- it's not to cast my hat into the ring, but to make sure that when presidential candidates go up there, they're asked about this. It is not a joke issue, and I will do anything to press the folks who are running.

Q: Karl Rove, the White House strategist, got so mad over your immigration stance that you were told not to darken the White House door. What's your relationship like with the president these days?

A: My wife and I went to the holiday ball at the White House. No one dances at this ball, because there's no room, and you get stuck waiting in this line... Luckily, we were by the cocktails and the canapes. Finally we got into the room with the Christmas tree, and the president comes up to me and says, "Tommy, I tell you, buddy, thanks for all the help out there." And I'm thinking, "Help out there?" And I say, "Thanks -- anytime." And I realize later that he's talking about the fact that I was the Bush co-chair in Colorado, an honor I did not seek. That was the sum total of my communion with him.

Last time, it was a little cooler.

Q: So will you have a front-row seat at the Inauguration?

A: I doubt if it will be front-row, and it may not even be on the podium. But I'll be there.

Q: Karl Rove lived in Colorado as a kid. How are things between you two?

A: That's always an awkward and uncomfortable situation. He has no desire to discuss anything with me, and frankly, I feel the same way.

Q: With Ben Nighthorse Campbell gone, any truth to the rumor that you're going to declare yourself Native American?

A: I've got the Harley to prove it. I'm calling myself Tom Tom Tancredo. And I came up with that all by myself.

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