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Our man in Washington


I spent a few minutes looking at the campaign mailers that accumulated at my house over the last few weeks.

Let's see: There's a big, honkin' four-page mailer from the fine folks who want to turn the old Greyhound track on North Nevada into a big, honkin' and extremely profitable casino. Surprise! According to the mailer, this would just be a nice little state-run "electronic lottery game" with no purpose but to raise money for open space and tourist promotion ... nice try, guys, but just how dumb did you think we are here in Colorado?

No wonder this one went down 4 to 1.

Moving right on, I'm just so flattered and excited! Here's a flyer from Laura Bush, telling me to vote for the library tax. For you, Laura, anything you want -- here, take my money! Wait a minute -- the flyer just quotes Laura, who says that she's all for libraries ... but she doesn't say a word about this particular election -- you don't suppose that the folks running this campaign were trying to mislead us a tad, do you?

Naw -- why don't all them library folks know that we're too smart to fall for a cheap little trick like that? I guess that's why we voted against the issue.

But wait a minute -- here's a letter signed by Gov. Owens himself, and he's telling me whom to support for the School District 11 board!! Well isn't that just special -- imagine our busy governor taking time from his schedule to familiarize himself so intimately with the affairs of one of the state's hundreds of school districts that he's happy to endorse four specific candidates for the office!

Yup, I'm sure that he's really studied the issues, and isn't just signing some piece of paper that a couple of rich Republican crazies shoved under his snout. No, Owens'd never put a major urban school district at risk, just to placate a few important campaign contributors, would he?

Well, of course he would, because our Bill thinks that he has a real shot at getting the Republican nomination for the presidency come 2008, and he's gonna make sure that all of the local heavy lifters are firmly in his corner. And you know something? Distasteful and bizarre as it may be, I think that he's got a shot.

If you were sane enough to refrain from reading the vitriolic screeds of the Republican right, you may not have known that Bill's their fair-haired boy. He's been lionized in the pages of the National Review, called "America's best governor" by the Wall Street Journal, and recently touted for the presidency by columnist George Will.

And Bill's not exactly hiding his light under a barrel; a couple of weeks ago, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he opined that California could cure all of its ills by adopting Colorado's TABOR initiative!

I'm not kidding. Despite the fact that many, if not all, of Colorado's fiscal ills can be laid at the feet of that particularly inane, let's-shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot, Doug Bruce-authored initiative, Gov. Owens wants to export it to California. But don't worry, Arnold -- Bill's not serious. He's just ritually sucking up to the anti-tax right, from whence all campaign contributions flow.

OK, so Bill's got a little mini-boomlet going for him -- so what? How can he possibly grab the brass ring?

Two reasons: First, he's squarely in the tradition of Reagan and Bush the Younger -- amiable, good looking, implacably conservative, essentially naive, and not terribly bright. That makes him a perfect front man for the powerful interests who really run the party, presently represented by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Tom DeLay, and Karl Rove.

Bill's a good campaigner, and you can bet that the power people have already made sure that there aren't any major skeletons in his closet ... or are there?

And once Bill's elected, it'll be business as usual. He'll be perfectly happy with exploitive environmental policies, a radically deregulated business environment, and tax policy skewed toward the wealthy. Lacking either intellectual curiosity or much knowledge of the greater world, Owens will never challenge the comfortable right-wing clichs that have carried him so far.

But what about all of the GOP heavy hitters, folks like Bill Frist, Rudy Giuliani or Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Forget 'em -- absent a constitutional amendment, Arnold can't run, and, like Frist and Giuliani, he's too smart and too independent. Those guys -- they've got their own ideas! It'd be like electing Eisenhower ... or Nixon ... or that goddamn Clinton! Nope, let's stick with Bill Owens -- and as for Frist and Giuliani and Arnold?

They can move to Colorado Springs and run for the school board.


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