When you think about it, faced with the option of real-life kicking in the hallowed chambers of Colorado's House of Representatives, 'tis far better to witness a swift kick to the knee than a real-life fisting, which Douglas Bruce's predecessor, Bill Cadman, threatened upon another lawmaker.
For those who have no earthly idea what I'm talking about, let's back up. This week our newly appointed state Rep. Bruce kicked a Denver newspaper photographer hard in the knee. That happened after Bruce finally showed up at the state Capitol, bearing Jelly Bellies for his new colleagues and swaggering in the limelight of a media horde that followed him around and asked him questions like, "How does it feel to be popular?"
Mr. Bruce, the self-proclaimed anti-government guy and former county commissioner who has now been collecting a government paycheck for more than three years, filled the seat vacated by Rep. Cadman, who went off to the state Senate to replace former Sen. Ron May. It was an inside deal that we chronicled in these pages on Oct. 25 ("The reality of phantom politics," Public Eye).
We haven't heard much from Cadman since he moved to the Senate. But that was far from the case in 2005, when Cadman positively stunned the General Assembly, as he became angry and publicly threatened to ram his fist up the ass of another lawmaker.
That Cadman, a conservative Colorado Springs family-values-and-all-that lawmaker, would even have knowledge of a raunchy gay sex act, was truly unusual. But that he would threaten to perform it on another lawmaker on the floor of the House was really something.
Cadman didn't actually execute the threat though his comment created quite a stir. Fellow lawmakers received a not-so-welcome education about the practice of fisting. Bloggers from around the country urged readers to send Cadman a package of Ultra Glide lube with a note warning him of the dangers of high-risk behavior. Rubber gloves were spotted around the Capitol. And The Fister got his new nickname.
At first, Cadman refused to back down, and the Rocky Mountain News tagged him in an editorial as a "sanctimonious loose cannon someone to whom it might be wise to give a wide berth." (Three years later, in the post-Larry Craig era, that comment itself has certainly taken on broad new implications.)
Anyway, Cadman finally backed down, apologized and is living happily ever after as a state senator.
Now we have Bruce. Out of the gate, he threatened to not take the oath of office unless he got the king's treatment. Then, he kicked a photographer.
The incident occurred during a public prayer, right after the preacher made the following comment: "May each leader individually, at this time, pause and reflect upon those that they represent ..."
Afterward, even Bruce's fellow Republicans had had enough. They voted, 22-1, calling for Bruce to get sworn in pronto without any ticker-tape parade and dancing girls. If he didn't, the GOP caucus threatened to request the vacancy committee that had sent Bruce there in the first place send them someone else. (Bruce's lone defender was Kevin Lundberg, a Berthoud Republican.)
"This is the House of Representatives. It is not the House of Bruce," noted House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker.
Said Rep. Jim Kerr, R-Littleton: "He can take the oath or take a hike."
Said John Temple, editor of the Rocky Mountain News: "It's outrageous for Mr. Bruce, in a public place, to assault a photographer."
Said an unrepentant Bruce: "In 21 years, I don't think there has ever been an instance where I had to do something to stop somebody from behaving in such a coarse and disgusting way."
The Rocky may consider updating its editorial with a position that would likely be supported by Idaho Sen. Craig: "Douglas Bruce is a sanctimonious loose cannon someone to whom it might be wise to give a wide berth."
And next time you see Sen. Cadman, consider giving him the old fist, er, thumbs up, for the gift of Rep. Bruce.