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Friday night frivolity 

Ranger Rich

If you ask me, and strangely enough no one ever does, here's a lousy way to spend a Friday night in Colorado: Sit in front of your computer and watch a mesmerizing debate, live on streaming video, between U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and his GOP challenger, Ken "Can You Spare a" Buck. An even lousier way to spend a night, of course, is on a motorcycle with Tom "If You Don't Have a Brain, You Don't Need a Helmet" Tancredo as Colorado voters who care deeply about our state hit him with their cars.

In case you missed it, Tancredo, who is still running for governor but is now doing it with a limp, was knocked off his motorcycle a few days ago in Littleton. Tancredo was not wearing a helmet, unless you count his hair, which appears to be made of Kevlar.

But this is not about Tancredo or whether NASA believes his hair could withstand the fiery re-entry from space. Instead, we'll discuss the recent debate right here in our own village between Bennet and Buck.

I wanted to attend, at downtown Centennial Hall, but was told by both sides that no tickets were left for the important event. However, when the debate began and the camera panned the auditorium, well, I hadn't seen that many empty spaces since our City Council members released X-rays of their chests, showing where their hearts used to be.

Bennet, appointed to the Senate in 2009, opened by saying it was the 24th visit he'd made to staunchly Republican El Paso County in the past 20 months, cleverly leaving out the fact that on 22 of the visits he was wearing a Ronald Reagan mask. Another thing Bennet failed to mention during the debate is his family's history of political service.

His grandfather, Douglas Bennet — and I am not kidding about this — was an economic adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Which explains Michael Bennet's vow that, if allowed to stay in the Senate, he will work tirelessly to return America to its lofty economic position of 1933.

Buck, the district attorney in Weld County (motto: "Looking At Colorado Through Really Dark Safety Goggles So We Don't Go Blind"), peered at the empty seats and uttered these unforgettable words: "The other day I was at a parade in Fountain and someone yelled out, 'We need jobs!' And, yes, we do. We need jobs."

This, as you know, was big news. Although not all of us need jobs. (I don't want to brag, but writing for this newspaper gives me a pretty comfortable annual salary. My accountant calls it the Indy 500.)

Anyway, the debate was riveting, and I probably should have jotted down more notes from the actual discussion, but my cat joined me in front of the computer for a robust game of "Can Kenny Catch the Cursor?"

Some of the debate questions came from Gazette newspaper reporter Tom Roeder, who actually went to Iraq and was embedded with soldiers. He has seen vicious fighting and grown men weeping and wounded people crying out for help and those in charge turning their backs on all the pain and suffering — and that was just at a Gazette staff meeting.

Seriously, Bennet and Buck were asked about their views on gays serving in the military. From Bennet: "There is absolutely no benefit to deny people who want to serve their country based on outdated views of our society." From Buck: "Oooohhhh, gross. Cooties!"

No, what Buck actually said was that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy should remain, and that gays should stay in the closet — right next to outdated things such as Grandma's fur coat, Aunt Edna's 1940s-era hats and a big box filled with Ken Buck's ideas.

Bennet closed the stirring debate with a story about a woman in her 80s in Cortez (town motto: "Even We Don't Know Where Cortez Is") who came up after his speech there and said she was going to her water aerobics class.

"That's the Colorado spirit," Bennet said.

Although, after listening to a politician talk, it's possible that the woman meant she was going to drown herself.

rangerrich@csindy.com

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