Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 27)

Colorado could see its first snow of the season as soon as next week. Yes, it is still officially summer. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


President Trump wrapped up his visit to the G7 summit in France with a long, rambling press conference that could easily just be a cold opener for “Saturday Night Live” by itself. This is the actual President of the United States of America at the peak of his lunacy.


Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was in Aurora on Monday to talk about curbing gun violence. As the Denver Post reports:

“Be bold, be courageous. The nation is counting on you,” Giffords told a standing-room-only crowd of about 150 people during a town hall meeting in Aurora.

Giffords was shot and nearly assassinated in early 2011 during a constituent event in Arizona. To focus on a lengthy recovery, she retired from Congress the following year and has since become one of the nation’s leading advocates for gun control measures.

On Monday night, she hosted the town hall event with three Democratic members of Congress from Colorado — Reps. Jason Crow, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter — as part of her advocacy work in the Centennial State. Attorney General Phil Weiser and several state lawmakers were also in attendance.

“The good news is, the tide is turning,” said Crow, who represents Aurora and ran for Congress on a gun control platform last year. “The majority of Americans are with us” on gun control.

Cardboard Cory — who has had a very big month already — was also in attendance on Monday:

Photo via Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post


► Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff reached a new level of self-parody on Monday.


► The latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure. Find out more about John Hickenlooper’s Senate candidacy, Cardboard Cory’s adventures, and whether or not wearing pants will become the signature issue of 2020.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Modest Culottes and Cory Collisions

Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, now available wherever you listen to podcasts.

This week, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss John Hickenlooper’s U.S. Senate candidacy; the collision of Cardboard Cory and non-Cardboard Cory Gardner; stupid recall stuff at the State Fair in Pueblo; ghostwriting help from the oil and gas industry; and whether or not women’s pants will be the key issue of the 2020 elections.

Get caught up on all the episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Buzzsprout. You can also find “The Get More Smarter Podcast” on Facebook and Twitter.

Click to listen after the jump below…


Gardner Still Lacks Plan to Cover People with Pre-Existing Conditions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) told a conservative talk-radio host Friday that he and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders both want to repeal and replace Obamacare with a healthcare law that covers people with pre-existing conditions.

In fact, Sanders’ universal healthcare plan, called “Medicare for All,” would cover all people, including those with pre-existing conditions.

But Gardner has yet to produce a specific plan that would do so. Instead, Gardner voted three times to kill Obamacare, even though he had no plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions.

“I disagree with [Sanders] on [Medicare for All], but [Democrats] still want to repeal and replace Obamacare,” said Gardner in an interview with KHOW’s Dan Caplis Friday.

“But what we can agree on is making sure people with pre-existing conditions have coverage, required coverage,” said Gardner on air. “That’s what we are about. That’s what we’ll fight for and continue to succeed with.

“We know that we can come together with better plan, a better policy, a better idea that works, that covers people with pre-existing conditions. And unfortunately, Obamacare has failed to do what they promised it would do.”

Gardner’s office did not return a call asking for his “better plan,” if he has one, to replace Obamacare.

Steve House Moving from State GOP to CO-6

Steve House for…House

The “CEO” of the Colorado Republican Party, Steve House, is stepping down from his day-to-day job directing the State GOP in order to (presumably) prepare for a run for Congress in CO-6.

As Randy Corporon of KNUS radio discussed over the weekend, former Jefferson County GOP Chair and CO-7 candidate Don Ytterberg will take over for House as the new right-hand man of State Party Chairman Ken Buck, who can’t be a full-time Party Chairman on account of the fact that he’s still serving in Congress himself. House has not indicated publicly that he will run for Congress in CO-6, but that’s the reason for the change from what we hear.

Ernest Luning reported last month that House was considering running for the Republican nomination in CO-6, despite (or because of) the fact that Casper Stockham is already in the race (although Stockham has the support of former CO-6 Rep. Tom Tancredo). State GOP Party bylaws prevent House from remaining in a leadership role while also running for public office.

Democrat Jason Crow ousted longtime Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in 2018 to take control of a seat that Republicans had never once relinquished in the history of the district. Crow has already raised more than $1 million for his re-election campaign.

House was a Republican candidate for Governor in 2014 and floated the idea of another statewide bid in 2018 before deciding otherwise. House is perhaps best known in Colorado political circles for his involvement in the “Coffmangate” scandal and his prominent role in a strange #NeverTrump fiasco.

More Colorado Republicans Tripped Up Over Jordan Cove

Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction).

After last week’s damaging story from The Guardian documenting what sure looks like a huge violation of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s promise to steer clear of conflicts of interest between his current position and his friends and former clients in the oil and gas industry–revelations that came courtesy of emails from Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson celebrating Bernhardt’s unethical promotion of the Jordan Cove natural gas export project–the Huffington Post reports:

In late June, Colorado State Sen. Ray Scott and Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese published a guest opinion column in the Boulder Daily Camera celebrating the growing “momentum” for an initiative to export Colorado and Utah natural gas to markets in Asia.

“What benefits us locally will translate into geopolitical and environmental gains for the United States and the world,” the column says…

But while those words were attributed to Scott and Pugliese, they were actually the work of the Consumer Energy Alliance, a Houston-based industry trade group whose members include oil giants like BP, Shell and ExxonMobil. Emails HuffPost has obtained via the fossil fuel watchdog Energy and Policy Institute show that while the Colorado officials wrote a first draft of the piece, CEA heavily revised it before publication.

That line is one of many additions CEA made to the column, and the emails show the inner workings of a larger campaign to win local support for a major liquified natural gas infrastructure project in Oregon.

Sen. Ray Scott doing some “research” during 2019 legislative session.

To put it charitably, Sen. Ray Scott and Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese do not top anyone’s list of “experts” in the field of oil and gas development or, well, anything else. Sen. Scott, a fireplace dealer by trade, is the same state senator who waxed idiotic about the “massive improvements in the climate” made in recent decades during this year’s legislative session, and was even caught watching movies during debate instead of paying attention. Pugliese is less known on the east side of the divide, primarily for her work on the National Popular Vote repeal initiative, but Mesa County locals have been documenting her antics in this space for years.

Back in May, readers will recall, Secretary of State Jena Griswold was subjected to an over-the-top roasting by Republican opponents organized by former Secretary of State Scott Gessler after her office sought and received minor edits from Planned Parenthood to a press release condemning the state of Alabama’s recently-passed abortion restrictions. Contrast that to this full-scale rewrite of Scott and Pugliese’s op-ed by oil and gas PR guys–so much that Sen. Scott even responded:

“When you guys edit you really edit…….lol,” [Pols emphasis] Scott responded later that afternoon.  “Overall I’m fine with it,” he added.

We’re going to hazard the guess that the Republicans who lost their minds over Griswold’s trivial Planned Parenthood edits will be a little less incensed this time! But with Colorado charting a course away from fossil fuels while a faction of Western Slope Republicans and energy extraction interests and the Western Slope-born Interior Secretary works surreptitiously against the interests of their own state, this is a story so much more important…it’s just kind of ridiculous to compare them.

Cardboard Cory Takes a Star Turn

UPDATE: More from the Huffington Post:


“The true measure of a man is whether or not people prefer him in cardboard form.”

     — (Not) Socrates

Cardboard Cory might not just be the most popular cardboard cutout in modern history — it might be the most popular version of Cory Gardner in existence today. Cardboard Cory recently concluded a weeklong journey around Colorado that generated an astonishing amount of media coverage (more on that in a moment), demonstrating once again that Gardner is in a perilous position as he looks ahead to a 2020 re-election campaign.

The cardboard cutout version of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was birthed in 2017 by activists seeking to draw attention to the fact that the real Gardner has a troubling tendency to avoid his constituents in Colorado; in February 2017, some 1,500 people showed up to a “town hall” event featuring the recyclable senator. Cardboard Cory has since made regular appearances at political events across the state. It has flourished in part because of clever organizing and outreach but also because the real Gardner has made inaccessibility his brand. As Colorado Public Radio recently reported, “this perceived lack of accessibility has Democratic activists dogging his every step.”

Last weekend in Pueblo, Cardboard Cory came face-to-face with actual Cory, the culmination of a wildly-successful week of activism that might best be summed up by this editorial from the Greeley Tribune that plainly states, “the organizers of the “Cardboard Cory” tour make a pretty good point.”

Gardner has been largely absent during the past five years when it comes to being available for his constituents, to whom he needs to be accountable.

His own office couldn’t even recall his last appearance in a town hall-like setting. Instead, they provided the Tribune a list of events Gardner had appeared at in the past few months, most of which were private or were the sort of public appearances, like walking tours, that don’t actually give voters the kind of access the “Cardboard Cory” folks have been asking for. [Pols emphasis]

Walking tours provide a great photo opportunity, but they don’t allow constituents to directly interact with Gardner, and that’s especially true when the tour hasn’t been advertised or put on some kind of schedule to which the public has access.

That’s what the “Cardboard Cory” tour is really seeking, scheduled events at which they have direct access to their Senator. We don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation.

The Cardboard Cory #SinceUBeenGone tour made headlines across the state in the last week, from the Ft. Collins Coloradoan and KJCT8 (ABC News) in Grand Junction, to The Durango Herald and KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs.

Nevertheless, as Shareblue Media reports, (actual) Gardner continues to insist that his constituents are his top priority:

In a campaign fundraising email, the Gardner campaign insisted “the single most important part” of Gardner’s job is to “listen to all Coloradans and what matters to them.”


A Few Words About Nuking Hurricanes

CBS News updates this weekend’s wacky Donald Trump news you’ve probably already heard, the President’s reported interest in exploding nuclear weapons inside hurricanes to break them up–now disputed as “fake news” by Trump:

While dealing with an economic storm of his own while overseas at the G-7 summit, President Trump is disputing a report that he suggested dropping nuclear weapons into the eye of hurricanes in an attempt to weaken their contact. Axios reported over the weekend that Mr. Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, citing sources who have heard the president’s private remarks.

Mr. Trump reportedly pushed the idea during a hurricane briefing at the White House, much to the briefer’s shock. Axios reports that the president also raised the idea in a conversation with NSC officials before current national security adviser John Bolton took over.

But after the story broke, the president called it “ridiculous.” “The story by Axios that President Trump wanted to blow up large hurricanes with nuclear weapons prior to reaching shore is ridiculous. I never said this. Just more FAKE NEWS!” Mr. Trump said on Twitter.

But the Axios reporter who wrote the story stands by it:

The idea of dropping nukes on a hurricane is of course so bad that even Fox News was obliged to consult experts, who promptly explained to their impressionable pro-Trump viewers that yes, dropping nukes on a hurricane is bad:

“Detonating a nuclear bomb inside a hurricane would do nothing to disrupt the storm,” tweeted climate analyst and meteorologist Ryan Maue Sunday. “Instead, you now have a radioactive hurricane.” [Pols emphasis]

In all fairness, though, dropping nukes on hurricanes did not actually originate first-person in the mind of President Trump, but was one of a bevy of suggested “peaceful uses” of nuclear weapons known as the Plowshare or “Atoms for Peace” program. Another such idea that actually made it to the testing phase was Project Rulison, a 1969 nuclear explosion near Rifle intended to demonstrate the ability of nuclear blasts to liberate natural gas from shale. While the 40-kiloton blast did indeed frack the hell out of the targeted shale, unfortunately the resulting gas was (wait for it) radioactive and commercially useless.

To summarize, yes it’s crazy to try to drop nuclear bombs on hurricanes, and it’s not impossible or even implausible Trump thought it might be cool to try.

And yes, that’s scary as hell.

Monday Open Thread

“You know that being an American is more than a matter of where your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break.”

–Harry S Truman

Caption This Photo: When Corys Collide

Here’s the scene forwarded to us from a short while ago today at the Pueblo State Fair Parade–a parade which witnessed the first-ever joint appearance by Sen. Cory Gardner and “Cardboard Cory,” a two-dimensional doppelganger who has served as a stand-in for Democrats and liberal activists calling out Gardner’s years-long lack of authentic public appearances in his home state.

In the movie Back To The Future Part II, there was some concern that such a meeting could result in, to quote the eminent Dr. Emmett Brown:

The encounter could create a time paradox, the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe! Granted, that’s worst-case scenario. The destruction might in fact be very localized, limited to merely our own galaxy.

We’re all still here, so fortunately Doc Brown was wrong.

Weekend Open Thread

“Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and repeat to yourself, the most comforting words of all; this, too, shall pass.”

–Ann Landers

Hickenlooper Walked Through an Open Door

John Hickenlooper

The decision by former Gov. John Hickenlooper to enter the race for U.S. Senate has stirred up some recognizable complaints about outside forces conspiring to foist a preferred candidate upon the masses in Colorado. Many of these are familiar arguments from familiar faces, but are they accurate?

As Chase Woodruff wrote recently for Westword, any number of Democratic candidates could potentially defeat incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020. We’re not convinced this is true, but regardless, it is an incomplete argument because none of these candidates are equally likely to succeed. You may be able to make a case that former State Senator Mike Johnston and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff could each defeat Gardner in 2020, but you’d be a fool to imply that Trish Zornio has similarly favorable odds.

If you can allow that Johnston or Romanoff are better candidates than Zornio, then you must also be prepared to acknowledge that there are better potential candidates than any of the current bunch of hopefuls. That’s what is happening with Hickenlooper’s candidacy. Nothing more.

The reality is this: If there was even one candidate already in the race that had demonstrated strong fundraising ability and unmistakable support among a broad group of Democratic voters, then Hickenlooper wouldn’t be running. Period. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC), for example, is charged with trying to win control of the Senate Majority in 2020. It doesn’t serve their purpose to stoke a competitive Primary race if they already felt comfortable with the current field of candidates. The DSCC wants to win, and they think Hick has the best chance to do that in Colorado. It’s not more complicated than this.

Johnston, Romanoff, and all of the other Democratic candidates have had months and months to show that they were indisputably the best of the bunch. None of them could do it. That’s not to say that some of these candidates would not have been able to eventually rise to the top of the pack, but how long are you supposed to wait for them? The first person to file campaign paperwork isn’t entitled to a 12-month head start.

We don’t blame supporters of any candidate for being upset when a recognizable name enters a race they hoped to win — but that’s politics. If you leave a door open, eventually someone else is going to walk inside.

Trump “Orders” Americans to Stop Doing Business with China

UPDATE: [Sigh] From CNN:

Stocks finished a volatile trading day sharply in the red Friday, after a selloff driven by President Donald Trump’s response to new retaliatory tariffs from China and Fed policy.


“The Chosen One”

Fans of the classic movie, “The Princess Bride,” are well aware of the warning that you should “never get involved in a land war in Asia.” Getting involved in a trade war with China might be the applicable modern version.

President Trump famously claimed in March 2018 that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” But as the Washington Post reports today:

The trade war between the U.S. and China worsened Friday as Beijing imposed retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion in American goods and President Trump took the extraordinary step of calling on U.S. companies to stop doing business with China.

The new tariffs, which included reinstated levies on auto products, delivered a strategically timed blow as recession warning signs cast doubt on the strength of the U.S. economy.

Trump initially directed his ire at Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell in Friday tweets, painting the Fed’s lack of monetary easing as a greater threat to American workers and businesses. But moments later, he said he would be responding to China’s tariffs later Friday and demanded American companies cut ties with China. [Pols emphasis]

That’s not a misprint. President Trump announced via Twitter today that American companies are “hereby ordered” to stop doing business with China. This is as absurd as it is unenforceable. As Brian Riedl of the conservative think tank the Manhattan Institute tells the Post:

“I have no idea how the president thinks he can order companies to stop working with China. I’m baffled.”

Earlier this week Trump said triumphantly that he is “The Chosen One” who was, uh, chosen to fight this great trade war with China. Or maybe it was Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell — who was appointed to that post by Trump himself — who is the real “Chosen One”:

Though he’ll never admit fault, President Trump has been slowly coming around to the reality that “winning” a trade war with China — a fight, remember, that Trump picked himself — could mean a whole lot of losing for the average American and may even drive the United States into a recession. As the Huffington Post explains:

On Tuesday, Trump seemed to acknowledge the turmoil on Wall Street, even as he argued the U.S. has “no choice but to” impose tariffs on goods made in China.

“My trade deals aren’t causing a problem. This is something that had to be done,” he said. “I could be sitting here right now with a stock market that would be up 10,000 points higher if I didn’t want to do it.”

In another tacit admission, Trump said his administration may offer some form of aid to U.S. companies like Apple that are struggling as a result of the trade war.

“If I didn’t help them, they would ― I mean, they would be ― they would have a big problem,” he added, without offering details about the form of assistance.

President Trump himself says he didn’t have to start this trade war with China that is literally killing American farmers and weakening an export-heavy economy here in Colorado. But he did, and now we’re all paying the price.

To quote Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma): “The President is going to continue to do what the President is going to continue to do.”

Colorado’s David Bernhardt: As Bad As Everybody Thought

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt (left).

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, who grew up in Rifle on Colorado’s Western Slope and worked at the powerful Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm while swinging in and out the revolving door at the Interior Department between Republican presidencies, was confirmed over the dire warning from many who had worked with Bernhardt over the years that he would be a walking, talking conflict of interest as Interior Secretary–totally beholden to his former employers and clients, to the extent that it would simply be impossible for him to ethically do his job.

Well folks, as The Guardian reports this week, that’s exactly what he’s turned out to be!

The US interior secretary, David Bernhardt, is promoting a fossil fuel project for which his former employer, a lobbying firm, is a paid advocate, e-mails obtained by the Guardian suggest.

Experts say Bernhardt is probably violating ethics guidelines issued by the Trump administration with the stated goal of “draining the swamp”. Based on these rules, Bernhardt should be recused from specific issues involving a former client for at least two years.

The Jordan Cove Energy Project was proposed by the Canadian energy giant Pembina to transport fracked natural gas through Oregon to the international port at Coos Bay in the state. It would include a new 232-mile pipeline that passes through several dozen miles of interior department land.

Several county commissioners from Colorado, where much of the gas is fracked, met with Bernhardt in Washington DC to boost the project in March. They included Mike Samson, Bernhardt’s former high school teacher.

As the Guardian reports, an email from GOP Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson, who we didn’t know but aren’t surprised to learn was Bernhardt’s high school teacher (it’s a small world on the Western Slope), appears to have spilled the beans on Bernhardt’s inappropriate promotion of the controversial Jordan Cove LNG terminal, a project he was supposed to be hands off from as Interior Secretary to avoid a crystal-clear conflict of interest:

That’s an email from Commissioner Samson to Ray Bucheger, a lobbyist working on the Jordan Cove project–conveying information no doubt great news to him, but a smoking gun in terms of Bernhardt violating his confirmation hearing promises and even the Trump administration’s own rules. Readers may recall that Garfield County’s Republican commissioners including Samson made embarrassing footnotes of themselves with a half-baked attempt to hamstring local funds to Planned Parenthood, which resulted in that organization raising far more money from the publicity than they ever got from Garfield County.

It appears that they’ve gotten no smarter on the GarCo board of commissioners. This time it could do lasting damage.

Trump Gives Hickenlooper The Best Welcome Gift He Has

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

CBS4 Denver reports:

President Donald Trump reacted on Thursday to John Hickenlooper’s announced bid for U.S. Senate. Hickenlooper made the announcement early Thursday morning.

Trump tweeted his support for Sen. Cory Gardner, the Republican incumbent, saying that he “has done a fantastic job representing the people of Colorado.” And that “He really knows how to win.”

President Donald Trump considers his Twitter account to be his greatest public relations asset, and has used the platform to break major news in addition to offending just about everyone on the planet possibly excepting Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. There’s no question that Tweeting another glowing endorsement of Sen. Cory Gardner seems like a good idea to Trump–but in a state trending strongly away from the GOP brand in the Trump era, fresh off a landslide victory in Colorado for Democrats in 2018 broadly considered a referendum on Trump’s chaotic presidency, there’s a solid argument that this helps John Hickenlooper vastly more.

With the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) now single-mindedly blasting away at Hickenlooper, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) throwing their weight behind Hickenlooper today, and Trump broadcasting who Republicans fear most in this race, Hick can only say thanks to friend and foe alike.