The January 16 announcement that former Governor Bill Owens and his wife, Frances, will be divorcing after 33 years of marriage was handled briefly and with decorum by the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. This decision echoes the approach taken by the papers around the time of the couple's 2003 separation, when reporters were forced to ignore an absolute avalanche of rumors from tipsters arguing that the split had been prompted by everything from an extramarital affair to a tweenage love child.
One of the most hilarious gossip items was unintentionally spawned by Westword cartoonist Kenny Be. In a typically amusing edition of Worst Case Scenario, he included the frame here, which jokingly suggested that Owens would wed Jennifer Rosen, ex-wife of KOA talk-show host Mike Rosen and sister of former Westword scribe Robin Chotzinoff. Before long, staffers began hearing from confidential callers who wanted to know if we'd heard that Owens and Rosen were playing What Can Fit in the Well. When contacted about these tales, Rosen said she had met Owens through her former husband, but the only thing she knew about him is that he really likes pigs in a blanket.
No one ever phoned yours truly claiming that Owens was sleeping with any pigs, be they Babe, Wilbur or Arnold from Green Acres. However, these three were among the few creatures with whom he wasn't said to have been carnal, as demonstrated by the following top twenty list of Owens rumors.
Here's the rundown, which first appeared in an April 2004 Message:
1. Owens is having an affair with an aide from his first campaign for governor.
2. Owens is having an affair with an aide from his earlier campaign for treasurer.
3. Owens is having an affair with an attorney in the governor's office.
4. Owens is having an affair with an attorney in another state government department.
5. Owens is having an affair with an intern at the governor's office.
6. Owens is having an affair with an underage intern at the governor's office.
7. Owens is having an affair with a principal at a local school.
8. Owens is having an affair with a neighbor in Centennial.
9. Owens is having an affair with political cohort Marc Holtzman, who is, in fact, male, and who recently announced his engagement -- to a female.
10. Owens's children discovered that he was having an affair with an unknown woman. They confronted him and threw him out of the house.
11. The woman in item one was impregnated by Owens. She traveled to New York and had an abortion.
12. The woman in item four was impregnated by Owens. She traveled to New York and had an abortion.
13. The woman in item five was impregnated by Owens. She traveled to New York and had an abortion.
14. A woman impregnated by Owens is due to give birth any minute.
15. A woman impregnated by Owens recently gave birth. She and the child are in Wyoming.
16. A woman impregnated by Owens recently gave birth. She and the child are in Montana.
17. A woman impregnated by Owens is living with him in the governor's mansion along with her other child, age six.
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18. Owens and his mistress have a love child who's eighteen months old.
19. Owens and his mistress have a love child who's six years old.
20. Owens and his mistress have a love child who's twelve years old.
Back in 2004, the governor's spokesman, Dan Hopkins denied each and every one of these assertions, and since Owens has been out of office, the jabber about his personal life has faded away, as has the once frequent hype about him running for national office. Today, he and his wife are private citizens whose decision to go their separate ways will have no impact on the Colorado political landscape. How times have changed. -- Michael Roberts