Earlier this week, Republican State Representative Tom Massey called a press conference for 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, to announce legislation aimed at regulating Colorado's medical marijuana industry.
Since Massey was the bill's sponsor -- and was the one who called the press conference -- he belonged at the event, naturally. But in politics, what's natural isn't always convenient.
When a few reporters -- myself included -- showed up in the briefing room at 1:15 p.m, to set up cameras (TV) and see if there were snacks (me), Massey was already sitting there, waiting.
I've gotta leave at 1:30, he said. Can we do this now?
The other reporters obliged while I kept looking around for the snacks, and eventually Massey gave a thoughtful if brief interview about the bill, which he said would maintain patients' access to medical marijuana while tightening up regulations on a federally controlled substance. He said thank you and was on his way. It was all quite cordial, albeit a little odd.
Then 1:30 came. By the time the minute hand hit the bottom of the clock, the room was packed, with reporters and a filmmaker and staffers and, most importantly, activists, the sort of people who have a tendency -- as is their right -- to make things a little uncomfortable for lawmakers used to controlling the conversation. And suddenly Massey's excuse -- that he had to meet with constituents -- was seeming masterfully convenient.
Senator Chris Romer certainly seemed to think so. He walked into the lion's den looking for his partner in prey, only to be told -- by me, which was quite amusing -- that Massey had bailed.
"No, he didn't," Romer said, in disbelief.
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"He definitely did," I said, with odd satisfaction.
Romer took it like a man: He moved behind the podium and answered almost every question (with lots of caveats, but still), and only mentioned a couple of times that the bill being introduced was a HOUSE BILL SPONSORED BY MASSEY.
This isn't to say Massey didn't have some constituents to see. I'm sure he did. But this is to say that he should have rescheduled, because only a shmuck bails like he did.
Meet more shmucks in our Shmuck of the Week archive.