Ready for fireworks

So Doug Bruce beat Margaret Radford in the Republican primary. And it looks like, barring the actual election of a Democrat, now the Dougster -- bane of all politicians for the last decade or so -- is about to become one himself!

And not just any kind of politician -- nossir, he hasn't signed up for a job that pays little or nothing (school board, City Council) or that requires lots of work for little pay (state Legislature). Nope, the Dougster opted for the easiest, best-paid job in politics: El Paso County commissioner.

With bennies, the job's worth about $80,000 annually. Pretty good, especially since you don't have to do anything but go to three or four meetings every month, and, if you're so inclined, shuffle stacks of papers around. Now, Bruce has said that he'll turn it all over to charity -- and here's betting he hands over his tax-paid salary to his own anti-government educational group "Active Citizens Together," of which he is chairman.

So count on Doug to have a fine old time, preening and posturing, infuriating his colleagues, and paying little or no attention to the needs of his district. And you can bet that his fellow commissioners will be perfectly happy to screw Doug's district whenever possible (not that they'll admit it ...). And like sleazy pols everywhere, Doug'll happily operate in the knowledge that he can neither be fired nor disciplined for the next four years ... wasn't it you, Mr. Bruce, who likened politicians to "pond scum"?

Bruce-bashing aside, it'll be interesting to see how things play out over the next few months for the commission. My guess is that newcomers Dennis Hisey and Sallie Clark will team up with incumbent Jim Bensberg to form a 3-2 majority. Bensberg and Wayne Williams don't get along, in the sense that Bill Clinton and Ken Starr don't get along -- and Bensberg enthusiastically supported Clark's candidacy.

It's possible, I suppose, that Williams could team up with Hisey and Bruce to control the commission, but don't count on it. Alliances between elected officials are fragile; for them to endure, all of the players have to be reasonably honorable, like-minded and willing to compromise. We've had some sly, treacherous, double-dealing elected officials in the past (first names only to protect the guilty, but anyone remember Charlie, Betty and Cheryl?). None of them were in the Dougster's league.

Meanwhile, it's great that Colorado is, at last, a swing state. Thanks to our open Senate seat, which both Dems and GOPsters think they can win, we're suddenly on the national political map.

Hanging out on the fringes of the Republican "Unity Rally" last week, chatting with old friends like Republican honcho Sam Shaefer (like your columnist, a proud member of the Colorado Springs High School class of 1958), and sometime foes (Will Perkins, CSHS class of '46), I found myself chatting with a tall, immaculately dressed, extraordinarily amiable guy whom I didn't recognize. Figured that he was some Denver powerbroker, trying to keep Pete Coors from putting his foot in his mouth.

I asked his name: He said, George Allen -- U.S. senator from Virginia who also happens to be the chairman of the Republican Senatorial Committee. Duuude!!! A national power player, right here in River City! So I tried to embarrass him, by asking about Virginia's nationally famous nudist camp legislation.

It seems that some giant nudist camp there ("Virginia is for Lovers") conceived the idea of a summer nudist camp for teens, ages 11-17. The Virginia Legislature, horrified, passed a law requiring each teen nude camper to have an adult escort.

"Surely," I asked Sen. Allen with what I hoped was a straight face "This'll just encourage pedophilia -- mixing all of these nude teens and nude adults in a summer camp setting? Aren't you concerned?"

The senator gave me a look of quizzical amusement -- just as Michael Jordan might have looked at a high school player trying to steal the ball from him -- and replied, "Well, of course there are a lot of issues that are more important than that one, especially in a crucial election year, but the Legislature has a job, and they need to take appropriate actions on behalf of the folks who elected 'em."

And we thought the two Bills (Owens and Clinton) were slick!!

So Dems: Be grateful that Allen's not running in Colorado. And GOPsters: When Coors says (as he did last Wednesday on the lawn outside the Pioneers Museum), "We're fighting in Iraq so we won't have to fight here in Colorado Springs!" -- get him to hire Allen's speechwriter ...



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