Columns » Ranger Rich

Joining GOP in the shed


Rep. Douglas Bruce manages a wry expression amid the - turmoil. - JON KELLEY
  • Jon Kelley
  • Rep. Douglas Bruce manages a wry expression amid the turmoil.

Over the years I've had a few disagreements with the El Paso County Republican Party and have criticized a few of the little things the local Republicans do.

Like the way they stick to their outdated caucus rules. Or that secret handshake they have. And how they like to formally begin a meeting by suffocating a sack full of kittens.

That was just a joke, of course, and if I offended anyone I apologize. There is no secret handshake.

Anyway, there was a large gathering of local GOP folks the other day. The big news was the way the party leaders kicked their very own state Rep. Doug Bruce around, to use the old expression, "like a photographer." The delegates voted to put newcomer Mark Waller ahead of Bruce on the November ballot, a clear signal that they've had enough of the Bruce carnival act. But I'm sick of all that and hereby vow to never, ever mention Bruce again.

The El Paso County Republican Assembly took place inside the Phil Long Expo Center. (Architectural footnote: The building, which is apparently as close to a convention center as we will ever have here in Raccoon Hollow, I mean Colorado Springs, is deceptive. From the outside, it looks like just a cheap metal shed. But from the inside, it looks like a cheap metal shed with an unfinished cement floor.)

But we're not here to talk about the Palace of Rivets. We're here to talk about the gathering. And even though I occasionally make fun of them, I say now with complete honesty and candor that I haven't witnessed such a gathering of intellects since the time Moe held onto a wire and Curly and Larry pulled him head-first through the wall when doing electrical work.

There were some magic moments. State Rep. Larry Liston, for example, thrilled the crowd by pulling a slut out of a hat. Liston, as you know, said a while back that we can solve the problem of young unwed mothers by shaming them, humiliating them and calling them "sluts."

Delegates came out of the political desert for seats in the - Expo Center. - JON KELLEY
  • Jon Kelley
  • Delegates came out of the political desert for seats in the Expo Center.

I found Liston at the assembly and gave him another chance to say something stupid about unwed mothers. Here now and I am not kidding is exactly what he said: "Oh, that s-word sure got me a lot of attention. It just blurted out. I can't believe I said it. I don't even use that word. But after I said it, I went to a home for unwed mothers in Denver and it expanded my horizons and I came away with a different view. Those young girls are the lucky ones because someone cares, but in other places out in Timbuktu, no one cares at all and we've got to change that."

Liston did not literally mean Timbuktu, the spiritual West African city. He was referring to remote places in general, places devoid of any history or sense of community, places on the very fringes of civilization. Around here that would be everything east of Powers Boulevard.

But the assembly was more than just watching Liston the Magnificent saw himself in half again.

There was also Will Perkins, the driving force behind the anti-gay Amendment 2 that was briefly a Colorado law in the 1990s. For some reason, Perkins agreed to talk with me. He told me something he said he had never told anyone outside his family. Really. Here it is:

"When I was in the Naval Reserves, '46, '47, back in there, I was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. We'd go out on the town there in North Chicago, and a few times I was approached by some of them, some of those guys, you know, the homosexuals, to see if I wanted to do what they do. I told them I wasn't interested at all. So I know what that's all about."

But the event was more than just Will Perkins denying playing a game of "Close Your Eyes and Guess What I'm Putting in Your Hand" back when he was a young sailor.

It was also Colorado Attorney General John Suthers firing up the GOP troops with a rousing speech and telling them the Republicans' dark days of late are about to end.

"While it would appear that we are wandering in the political desert," he told his cheering followers, "I believe our deliverance is at hand."

Deliverance, of course, was a reference to the 1972 film classic and the way the party leaders and delegates were about to bend Rep. Ned Beatty I mean Doug Bruce over a tree stump, yank on his ear and make him squeal like a pig.

Listen to Rich Tosches Thursdays at 8 a.m. on MY99.9. He can be reached at

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