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Ever since California refugee Douglas Bruce appeared on the scene a decade ago, government workers, politicians, journalists and just plain Coloradans, when scrutinizing or critically analyzing his tax-cut proposals, have endured insults and a noticable degree of meanness from the lawyer-turned-landlord.

Given his well-documented bluntness, the following e-mail exchange, dated Sept. 15, about his most current proposal, Amendment 21, might elicit a chuckle from those who are well-versed in Bruce's attempts to intimidate.

Self-described "concerned citizen and volunteer firefighter" Jeff Jacobucci sent an e-mail query to Bruce, forwarded to the Indy, wherein he asked Bruce how his proposal would force the state to cough up the money to keep small special fire and water districts going.

The volunteer firefighter told the landlord that he is all for cutting taxes when there's a waste, but not when the safety of communities and children's education is at stake.

Jacobucci asked Bruce to answer the following questions:

"Where does [Amendment 21] say that [state replacement of local revenue] will happen for sure? Where does it direct the state to do this? You cannot answer this, because [Amendment 21] does not. Let's say the state does replace some of the funds. How much will it replace? Dollar for dollar? I seriously doubt it. Who in the state will be making decisions on how much to give these special districts to survive and run? So now we have the government telling us how to fight fires and protect the citizens? Wow, talk about government control. These are all questions that I have. Can you answer them?"

Guess Bruce wasn't in the mood. Instead, he sent Jacobucci the following response:

"... Your mind is not open to the possibility that you are wrong, so there is no point in talking to you. You obviously think you know more about #21 and government revenue than I do. You don't, but gaining your one vote is not worth experiencing your confrontational, argumentative attitude. Please do not reply. Silly statements like 'Family safety isn't part of what Douglas Bruce is about' simply show you're big on personal attack, not facts and logic. Argue with yourself."

The message was signed, "Have a nice day. Douglas Bruce."

The firefighter characterized his interlude with Bruce as "very disturbing." It appears that Bruce, who just three months ago promised to be nice and congenial if voters would just elect him to the state Senate, has reneged on that particular agreement.

Meanwhile, other voters may be lingering over Bruce's unanswered questions as well. Support for his Amendment 21 seems to have diminished since July, when one poll found an astounding 77 percent supported the proposal. A more recent poll, conducted by Denver-based Ciruli Associates, shows a slight majority -- 53 percent -- still say they "somewhat" or "definitely" support the plan. About 30 percent of the 500 respondents reported they plan to vote against it and another 17 percent hadn't yet made up their minds.

* * * * * * * * This week's Bushism was printed in the April 13 issue of U.S. News & World Report, hopefully assuaging the anxieties of anyone who doesn't think he's up to the challenge of being Leader of the Free World:

"I think anybody who doesn't think I'm smart enough to handle the job is underestimating."

* * * * * * * *

We've been running asinine George W. Bush quotes every week for several months in this space and find ourselves overwhelmed with the sheer volume of available material. Yet last week we were taken to task by Indy reader Richard Conde, who chastised us for not giving damning equity to Bush's major opponent, Al Gore.

The vice-president speaks much more eloquently than his Republican opponent. However, Conde's communique is correct regarding Gore's less-than-honest statements about his record and past policies, and current campaign game plans.

So in the matter of fairness, we offer up the most recent Gore "broken promise," a feature offered on Green Party candidate Ralph Nader's Web site at www.votenader.com.

In an Oct. 8 press release, Nader points out that, during their 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton and Gore promised to "stop the cynical politicization of federal immigration policies" and "direct the Justice Department to follow the [federal] Department of Human Services recommendation that HIV be removed from the immigration list."

Nader cited an undated St. Louis Post-Dispatch report claiming that when the Republican-controlled Congress voted to continue the ban, "Clinton accepted defeat without putting up much of a fight."

Sayeth Nader: "The cave-in reflects the modus operandi of the Clinton-Gore approach to civil rights: Say the right thing to win votes, and then do nothing to follow through."

-- degette@csindy.com

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