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As it goes in Bizarro-land


Stranger things have happened. Like when a TV reporter stuck a microphone in Ted Haggard's face as he sat in his SUV, and with his wife and children looking on, started talking about buying methamphetamine and getting a massage from a male prostitute.

But as it goes in Bizarro-land, the return of Eric the Pious is right up there.

Just after state Rep. Michael Merrifield stepped down late last week as House Education Committee chairman, Eric Christen sent out a press release saying he "finds relief" in the news.

Christen said he planned to "pray" for Merrifield, who made the move after light was shone on an e-mail the lawmaker had written last December to a state senator. Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs, is a retired teacher and longtime vocal foe of school vouchers and charter schools. In his message, he wrote, "There must be a special place in hell for these Privatizers, Charerizers [sic] and Voucherizers. They deserve it!"

Merrifield was specifically referring to D-11 school board members Christen and Sandy Shakes, who, at the time, were in the middle of being recalled.

When the e-mail surfaced and was publicized last week, the message's nasty tenor threw the Capitol into a tizzy. Republicans and Democrats who support charter schools were furious over Merrifield's vile remark, which was largely interpreted as being inclusive of everyone who supports charter schools.

So Merrifield, who also is undergoing chemotherapy for throat cancer, resigned his leadership role for the remainder of this legislative session. He remains in office; he just won't be in charge of the education committee.

After the dust-up, Christen opined that he hopes Merrifield, the son of a Baptist preacher, gets to "know the Lord." And then Christen demonstrated just how sincere his rhetoric was by bludgeoning Merrifield over the head with the proverbial two-by-four.

"Christen is not surprised at [Merrifield's] intemperate, angry remarks as he says he has been the victim of them for years," Christen wrote, referring to himself in the third person.

Christen then switched to a first-person "quote" to narrate the following little story: "The first time I met [Merrifield] was at a public forum where I was debating education issues while running for school board ... He approached me afterwards and started getting very agitated over my stances and how I publically [sic] stood up for them. At one point he grew so angry that he stepped in front of me as my wife and I were trying to walk away. Continuing to be frustrated by my support for things like choice, merit pay for teachers, and anything that smacked of common sense, he finally resorted to calling me a Nazi!

"Clearly he has some issues that need to be dealt with or he is going to continue to lead a very sad and angry life."

Christen's press release goes on a bit, talking about Merrifield's "troubled heart" and that sort of twaddle. The next day, the daily newspaper actually quoted Christen with what appeared to be a straight face, so to speak.

"He needs to do some soul-searching and get some help," Christen said in The Gazette. "We're going to add him to our family prayers."

This, from the bazooka-mouth who was largely responsible for sinking the city's largest public school district into a three-year-long study in dysfunction? This, from the man who perfected the art of poisoning via keyboard, viciously attacking anyone who didn't agree with him? This, from the man who would, during televised school board meetings, routinely accuse his colleagues of being irrational, petty, shameless, out of control even buffoons and pathological liars?

Right about now is a good time to remind everyone especially, apparently, Christen that locals have sent a pretty resounding message that they don't really care what he thinks. Three months ago, he was recalled by nearly 72 percent of participating voters. Far more people voted to recall him than elected him in the first place.

So what is Eric Christen thinking, sending out this narcissistic screed? That he may run for something else?

Stranger things have happened.

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