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Public Eye


Given that 80 percent of Colorado residents have indicated they would support a ballot initiative to close gun show loopholes, it's not that surprising that SAFE Colorado was able to collect nearly twice as many signatures as they needed in their petition drive.

This week the bipartisan organization submitted 110,000 signatures to the Secretary of State for their November statewide ballot initiative to require background checks at gun shows. The number gathered is close to twice as many as the 62,438 valid signatures that are required to make the ballot. Secretary of State Donetta Davidson must verify at least that many signatures for the initiative to go forward.

But what was notable about the push was the fact that, in this day of paid petition circulators ($1 a signature) nearly 2,000 volunteers turned out to gather those signatures, for free. People actually felt passionate, or at least committed to their cause. With the current prevalent condition of political apathy, that is something to celebrate.

Republican Gov. Bill Owens and Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar support the initiative, and former governors Richard Lamm (D) and John Love (R) are serving as honorary co-chairmen of SAFE Colorado. Three polls have shown fully 80 percent of Coloradans support gun show background checks.

But, if the signatures are approved, proponents can expect a vicious battle in the months ahead.

Led by Bernie Herpin of the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition, the group has already faced -- and won -- one legal challenge, an effort to declare the ballot wording unconstitutional. Who knows what the heavily funded, organized, and often menacing pro-gun lobby will come up with next. We're predicting it won't be pretty.

Meet a real moderate man of the people. When Shrub announced his vice presidential pick was Dick Cheney, the mainstream media initially fell all over themselves tagging the former Wyoming congressman, secretary of defense and oil exec as a safe bet who poses little or no political risk to the self-described compassionate conservative presidential candidate.

But the mainstream couldn't ignore Cheney's congressional voting record forever. According to the Associated Press, here are Cheney's worldviews:

Abortion: Opposed, even in the cases of rape, incest and when a woman's life is in danger.

Gun control: Opposed, including any bans on armor-piercing bullets (more commonly known as cop killers) and plastic guns that can pass undetected through metal detectors.

Environment: Opposed the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and was one of only eight members of Congress to oppose the Clean Water Act. Supported oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Military: Was a staunch supporter of Reagan's Star Wars, supports production of new chemical weapons, and supported U.S. military aid to Nicaragua and deployment of the MX missile.

In addition, Cheney supports capitol punishment, raising the Social Security retirement age to 67, supports prayer in the schools and opposes campaign finance reform and prescription drug coverage for Medicare patients.

By the time the Republican National Convention kicked off last weekend, reporters had somehow realized that many of Cheney's positions and past voting record weren't so mainstream after all. But when they challenged the veep candidate, he stood firm.

"It's there. It's my record. I'm proud of it," Cheney said in a televised interview on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

Meanwhile, Greens and Libertarians took one look at the Republican wingding -- and in anticipation of the Democratic Party's upcoming version in Los Angeles, condemned it as a gaudy sellout to mega-corporations and a waste of taxpayer money.

On the eve of the Republican's convention in Philadelphia, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader -- also stumping in the City of Brotherly Love -- denounced the "political carnivals," and derided the major parties for taking millions in corporate and special interest dough to fund the events.

Major corporations handout goodies like Halloween candy at these events -- the "bribes" range from official Republican Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to flowing booze at million-dollar corporate-funded extravaganzas.

Bette Rose Smith, chair of the Libertarian Party of Colorado, also weighed in with a jaundiced eye. In addition to the corporate largesse that flows indiscriminately to both major parties (favors anyone?) the federal government also chips in with millions in public funds.

By contrast, the Libertarians, who met several weeks ago in Anaheim, Calif., and the Greens, who gathered in Denver in May, paid for their own conventions with admission fees and party donations.

"So enjoy every minute of this prime-time extravaganza," Smith said of this week's Republican hoedown. "Since you are forced to buy the ticket, you might as well enjoy the show."


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