John: "Gov. Ritter is hell-bent to be green , even if it means tanking the economy. Overreacting wildly to alleged manmade global warming, he announced a sweeping plan to remake our industry, our agriculture, and your lifestyle. Plus, he climbed in bed with Big Labor. Recession, here we come." So begins the November series of “Head On” debates between former state Sen. John Andrews (R) and former Denver councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt (D), seen daily on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Besides sparring over Ritter's plans for less CO2 and more unions, they took on the Pakistan crisis, Hickenlooper's scorecard, and the future of purple Colorado. Here are all five scripts: 1. GREEN GOV RESCUES THE PLANET?
John: Gov. Ritter is hell-bent to be green , even if it means tanking the economy. Overreacting wildly to alleged manmade global warming, he announced a sweeping plan to remake our industry, our agriculture, and your lifestyle. Plus, he climbed in bed with Big Labor. Recession, here we come.
Susan: Big Labor - an oxymoron! Just look at Detroit. And - the lack of Congressional backbone demands state and local government address the environmental degradation that's the real threat to a strong economy. If we're headed for recession - the financial industry's greed is the cause.
John: Ritter must hope to win an Oscar, portraying Al Gore. The country boy has gone Hollywood. His panic plan to prevent climate change will take Colorado higher, though. Higher energy costs, higher food costs, higher housing costs, higher transportation costs, higher taxes, higher unemployment. Thanks but no thanks, governor.
Susan: Americans living in oversized houses, driving gas guzzling cars and accustomed to more, more more are in denial about climate change and the not-very-gradual disappearance of natural resources. And, for those of you who are happy with our untenable reliance on foreign oil - keep on truckin'.
2. PAKISTAN WORSENS AS IRAQ IMPROVES
John: The conflict that began on 9/11 is far larger than America vs. Al Qaeda. All nations are threatened by a scary mix of radical Islam, oil dependency, and nuclear weapons. As things improve in Iraq, they worsen in Pakistan. This is World War III. We need statesmanship from Republicans and Democrats.
Susan: The crisis in Pakistan is yet another example of the Bush team's bad judgment. Musharraf - our ally in Iraq -- is a thug. He declared an emergency because the courts were about to overturn his phony election. The state of emergency must end - now - not in January.
John: That’s just what I’m talking about, Susan. Statesmanship approaches these things without finger-pointing and name-calling. After 9/11, no matter who was president, Musharraf was indispensable to our war against radical Islam. If he’s replaced now, radicals may take over Pakistan. This is no time for partisan cheap shots.
Susan: Partisan shots aside - Pakistan's a mess and we'll see if they're a viable ally. Musharraf must end the state of emergency now and release Benazir Bhutto from house arrest. Al Qaeda is stronger in Pakistan now than it was before 9/11. Free elections in January may be too late.
3. COLORADO PREVIEW OF ELECTION 2008
Susan: Now that this year’s election results are in, candidates for next year are out in force. 2008 will see Colorado turn a darker shade of purple - Udall will go to the Senate. Betsy Markey may upend Musgrave and the state leg will stay Democratic true blue.
John: Massive public disapproval of the Democratic Congress spells trouble for the whole ticket. Bill Ritter’s recent stumbles don’t help either. Colorado will vote Republican for President and for Senate, electing Bob Schaffer. No congressional seats will flip. Musgrave wins easily. Republicans gain in the state House and maybe retake the state Senate.
Susan: I don't know what you're smokin' John, but even Republican pundits predict a Dem sweep in DC. Every day another R congressperson stands down. The President's numbers are pitiful and the wannabes are in disarray. Ritter is in great shape, the D's could take Secretary of State and leg will remain Blue.
John: What I’m smoking is unfiltered politically incorrect reality, Susan. On the label it says Old 15%, Nancy and Harry’s personal brand. 15% is all the public approval that Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi and their congressional gong show can muster. To repeat: Colorado votes Republican next year for Senate and President.
4. RITTER & ORGANIZED LABOR
John: If Bill Ritter wants to improve state government, his mandate for union collective bargaining is not the way to do it. Unions always want more pay for less effort. That’s why they exist. This ends up hurting the taxpayers and helping Democratic campaign contributions, especially with the DNC coming to town.
Susan: Post publisher Singleton over reacted in his front-page editorial screed. Ritter's labor partnership does not include collective bargaining, binding arbitration or the right to strike. The guv's executive order was a smart move - public services depend on an empowered workforce.
John: The Colorado Promise, Ritter’s campaign platform, didn’t say anything about doing financial favors for special interests. It said nothing about reversing a century of bipartisan policy with no input from the legislature. Turning the whole government workforce over to power-hungry union bosses is a terrible idea.
Susan: Ritter's softball to labor was a nothing-burger. Using an executive order instead of asking for a statute allows greater flexibility. His move was an extension of good will to public employees - people we all depend on for everything from public safety to roads.
5. DENVER’S POLITICAL ROLLER COASTER
Susan: Hick won all nine of his bond and tax issues, but the council overrode his veto on a pay raise for city employees. The march of the sugar plum alphabet may have carried the bond election - but Hick's got a problem with city employees and the council.
John: Mayor Hickenlooper and President Bush both suffered their first veto override the same week, and for the same reason. A chief executive loses credibility when his message is mixed. Like Bush, Hick can’t keep saying tax dollars are plentiful and then suddenly become Mr. Tough Guy. The spending lobby just rolls on.
Susan: Hick's honeymoon with the council is ending and he'd better solve problems with the election process before next November. The recent mail ballot snafus were awful and though the Mayor doesn't appoint the Election Director, the buck stops with him. Leading a city is about more than dress-up and jumping from an airplane.
John: Hickenlooper had a good year. He gained easy reelection, then won his umpteenth money request from voters. But suburbs on all sides are crowding him for jobs and entertainment venues. Denver schools are struggling and the gang problem is awful. Kick it up a notch, Mr. Mayor.