Archive for January, 2013

Media omission: Fearing backlash, group apparently seeks stealth anti-abortion candidates

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

New polling shows that eighty percent of likely voters are pro-choice, in the sense that they are pro-letting-women-decide-if-they-want-to-have-an-abortion. But they don’t necessarily want to be labeled “pro-choice.”

And half of the people who call themselves “pro-life” are actually pro-choice, if you start digging into what they really think.

The poll, from Planned Parenthood, raises the question, what to do if you’re anti-abortion and you want to get elected?

Anti-abortion activists in Colorado have designed ways for anti-choice candidates to run for office and mobilize support from anti-abortion voters, without disclosing to the wider public what they really think about abortion.

Here’s how they’re doing this.

Colorado Right to Life blogs on whether federal and state candidates are “100 percent pro-life.” This year’s determination was based on a nine-question survey, which asked for yes-no responses to queries on personhood (which defines life as beginning at conception), state funding for abortion, and abortion regulations.

The survey isn’t normally made public by CRTL, but this year, Weld Country freshman Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey, who’s sponsoring a bill banning most abortion in Colorado, including abortions for rape and incest, published the CRTL survey on his website.

In a cover letter to Humphrey accompanying the 2012 candidate survey, CRTL wrote:

We realize there are a few districts, even Democrat primaries, where a ‘pro-life’ label might keep a good candidate from being elected. If you feel this is one of those rare cases, please answer our survey but clearly indicate that you would prefer back-channel conversations only. We would then want to talk with you over the phone or in person, and we can work out together how you could best be helped.

If you are concerned you don’t know how to properly ‘message’ your pro-life views to voters, we have a veteran political communicator who will volunteer to help candidates in this area–just let us know.

This surprised me, I have to say, because, love them or hate them, the folks at Colorado Right to Life don’t seem to play politics much–or they don’t play politics very well. They’re motivated by their issue. They seem to tell their version of the truth, and take the political fallout.

But does the “back-channel” caveat mean Colorado Right to Life would lie on its blog about a candidate’s position on abortion, calling them, for example, supporters of Roe v. Wade when they are not?

If CRTL doesn’t lie about candidate positions, what does the phrase “work out together how you could best be helped” mean?

I tried to get a response from CRTL, but I was only able to reach former CRTL Vice President Leslie Hanks, who told me she was “utterly confidant that no he/we wouldn’t lie.”

But how does the “back channel” work? Hanks didn’t say, but Colorado Right to Life should explain it ASAP.

Otherwise, you can’t help but wonder: do we have stealth personhood supporters in our midst at the State Capitol? Secret Planned Parenthood haters? And when will they reveal who they really are?

GOP Senate opposition to civility resolution deserves media scrutiny

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

On Tuesday, the Colorado Senate passed a resolution:

That we, the members of the Colorado General Assembly, agree to conduct ourselves at all times in a manner so as to reflect credit on the Colorado General Assembly and its two houses and to inspire the confidence, respect, and trust of the public in the laws, the Colorado General Assembly, and democratic government.

There was more to it, and you can read it here, but you get the idea.

You’d think a “no” vote by seven Republican Senators, including Senate Minority Leader Cadman, would catch the attention of the Capitol press corps.

What’s up with a no vote on a bipartisan civility resolution?

The No’s were: Scheffel, Baumgardner, Brophy, Cadman, Crowder, Grantham, and Lambert.


Aguilar Y Guzman Y Kefalas Y Roberts Y Balmer Y Harvey Y

Kerr Y Scheffel N Baumgardner N Heath Y King Y Schwartz Y

Brophy N Hill Y Lambert N Steadman Y

Cadman N Hodge Y Lundberg Y Tochtrop Y

Carroll Y Hudak Y Marble Y Todd Y

Crowder N Jahn Y Newell Y Ulibarri Y

Giron Y Johnston Y Nicholson Y President Y

Grantham N Jones Y Renfroe Y


Grassroots Radio Colorado: Your Source for GOP Leadership Intrigue

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

By Michael Lund

When it comes to Ryan Call, Ken Clark and Jason Worley are not impressed.

In the past week on Grassroots Radio Colorado (airing weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m. on KLZ 560 AM), show hosts Worley and Clark have been heard to call for current GOP State Party Chairperson Call to own up to his responsibility for the devastating November election losses “like a man”, and step down from his leadership position.

Last Friday on Grassroots, Arapahoe County Tea Party Chair Randy Corporon was filling in as guest host, as he often does.  Worley and Clark were on a “top secret” special assignment.  The guests that day, freshman State Representative Justin Everett (HD-22) and John Ransom from pleaded with Corporon to throw his hat into the race for the GOP Chairmanship.  Their enthusiastic request was modestly evaded.

And then yesterday, Mark Baisley, Douglas County GOP Chair, appeared on Grassroots to announce his candidacy for the position.

Ryan Call probably isn’t too worried.

He has endorsements from approximately half of the current County GOP Committees that will eventually vote to decide who leads the state party, as well as support from GOP notables such as AG John Suthers, and Rep. Cory Gardner.

Call’s ascendency two years ago came in a firestorm of name calling and finger pointing around previous Chairman Dick Wadhams, who withdrew his candidacy for reelection after the debacle that was The McInnis-Maes-Tancredo Show and Ken Buck’s losing challenge to Democrat Michael Bennet’s senate seat.

Stating his frustration with trying to herd the un-herdable cats of Colorado’s GOP, Wadhams said in a recent Lynn Bartels blog post for the Denver newspaper’s political blog, The Spot (January 13, 2013)

“[…]  he was “tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is.”

In the same column, Bartels quoted Wadhams pointing to fundraising as another piece of the fallout from his decision to withdraw:

 “When I went back to major donors they said, ‘Since you’re not running we’re going to hold off. We’re not going to give to a state party run by an idiot.’ Ryan is who they wanted to have win and so after he won fundraising picked back up,” Wadhams said.

The “idiot” refered to in Wadham’s quote is most likely Senator Ted Harvey, who was challenging Call at the time with support from liberty and grassroots groups in the GOP.  Could the same divisive scenario be setting up for this spring’s GOP Chair election?  Well, Baisley is no Ted Harvey, although they appear pretty similar on paper.

Worley and Clark were happy to give Baisley a soapbox to announce his candidacy, as they have with other successful GOP candidates.  But they didn’t hold back with their criticism of Call, who they said runs a party that’s not all too inviting to liberty groups’ participation.  Worley points out that he and Call went to high school together, but they still butt heads.

Callers to Grassroots Radio last Friday echoed some of Wadhams’ concerns from 2011, namely the danger of splitting a minority Party whose wounds continue to weep along ideological fractures, and the proven abilities of a candidate to deliver in the Chairmanship’s two biggest responsibilities:  winning elections and fundraising.

Baisley addressed both concerns.

He asserted his longstanding friendship with Ryan Call and said they have always worked well together.  He’s offering to unite the all who believe in limited government with his “model of respect,”  where everyone is invited to share their talents in defeating the Dems – apparently to include  “nuts” and “idiots.”

As proof of his capabilities, Baisley cited his success in organizing over 3,000 Douglas County volunteers, activitating a localized ground game for getting out the vote, and the notable coup of electing seven conservatives to the Douglas County School Board which eventually tossed the American Federation of Teachers union from the district.

As far as fundraising, Baisley reduced its importance as secondary to the ground game, but noted his successes, just the same.  On the finance committee during Bruce Benson’s tenure ten years ago as leader of the Colorado GOP, he helped raise more than $10 million for the Party.  In Douglas County this election cycle, enough funds were generated to cover all GOTV costs, max out a contribution to Mike Coffman’s congressional campaign, while filling in gaps in other legislative races, he said.

Addressing Ryan Call’s claim of early support from the counties, Worley and Clark enthusiastically point out that new leadership in the counties committees could undermine some of those initial endorsements.

Then  Baisley said he had heard from some county leaders, who said if they’d known Baisley was running for the Chair, they would never have endorsed Call.   They promised Baisley they wouldn’t be seen campaigning actively for Call.

It all sounds very encouraging for Baisley, if you can believe Grassroots Radio.

But can he herd cats?

Small number of Republicans who support ASSET mostly absent from media coverage of bill’s introduction

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Among numerous reports on the Democrats’ news conference at the State Capitol yesterday announcing the introduction of a bill offering in-state tuition to illegal-immigrant students, only Rocky Mountain Community Radio reporter Bente Birkeland found a Republican lawmaker willing back the “concept.”

That would be freshman Sen. Larry Crowder, who reiterated his support not only for reduced tuition but a path to legalization, which is abhorred by many Colorado Republicans. Berkeland reported:

“I do support the concept. I believe that if an individual has went through our school system for a period of 6,8,10 years, we already have that investment in him for public education. It’s an issue here where we want people to become legalized.”

Berkeland also quoted Republican Minority Leader Bill Cadman, who opposes the measure.

Other reporters covering yesterday’s news conference quoted Republican legislators’ opposition to ASSET.

KMGH 7’s Marc Stewart found GOP Sen. Ted Harvey continuing his opposition:

“I think they’re being honest with the voters. Last time, they mini-subsidized (tuition) if you will. This time they’re going to completely subsidize it,” said Sen. Ted Harvey, a Republican from Highlands Ranch.

The Associated Press’ Ivan Moreno quoted Rep. Brian DelGrosso, who felt the measure is unfair to out-of-state kids but, in other interviews, he saw some merit in it.

“You got a lot of students who come here to Colorado [from out of state] to go to college, and they’re paying the high, out-of-state tuition fee. And they’re like, ‘Why should I not get the same benefit as some of these other students?’” DelGrosso said.

He also said he disagrees with the notion that Republican opposition to the bill hurts the party’s courtship of Latino voters, who have largely favored Colorado Democrats. He said Latino families who have gone through the process for legal residency feel like it undermines their efforts.

“I don’t think that the entire Latino community is a hundred percent behind this. It’s unfair to say that it’s us against the Latino community because we have definitely heard from several folks in the Latino community that quite frankly don’t want us to go this route,” he said.

House Republican Leader Mark Waller, told the Associated Press’ Kristin Wyatt that a path to citizenship should come before reduced tuition:

“Let’s define a clear path of citizenship for these kids,” Waller said. “Because giving education without citizenship does nothing to providet opportunity for them.”

Wyatt should have pointed out that Obama has granted undocumented students the ability to get work visas.

Reporters were right, obviously, to quote GOP opposition to reduced tuition for undocumented students, but there’s a small minority of Republicans who are behind it, and they should be heard.

But, as they present this view, Reporters should note that the vast majority of the GOP remains opposed.

Reporters covering the ASSET bill introduction at the State Capitol

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

I’m launching a project this year called “Still Standing: Journalists at Work.”

I’ll be tweeting and blogging photos of CO journos on the job.

To  start, some photos of reporters covering the ASSET news conference today at the State Capitol.

From left, AP's Ivan Moreno and The Denver Post's Tim Hoover cover the introduction of the ASSET bill

AP’s Ivan Moreno (left, front) and The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover (center, front) and other reporters cover the introduction of the ASSET bill

Fox 31's Eli Stokols conducts an interview after ASSET news conference.

Fox 31’s Eli Stokols conducts an interview after ASSET news conference.

Time for Colorado editorial boards to ask, “Which congressional Republican will put on his big-boy pants first?”

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

You’d think the upcoming deadline to extend the U.S. debt ceiling offers the perfect moment for one, just one, congressional Republican from Colorado to pull on his big-boy pants and say something like, “Hey, we created stock market gyrations and induced the first-ever U.S.-credit downgrade when we held up the debt increase in 2011. We caused similar instability last year. Let’s get real, extend the ceiling, and debate budget cuts during the budget process.”

Which is what Democrats and Republicans have done over 100 times since 1940, with little opposition (until 2011). Reagan did it 18 times; G.W. Bush seven.

Instead, it looks like Coffman (here), Gardner (here, here) are readying themselves for a fight that could lead to an economic mini-tizzy if not a large one.

Or maybe not. Can a Colorado Republican step up and be reasonable? Any of them? That’s what editorial writers at The Denver Post and elsewhere should be asking.

In just the latest example of extreme craziness, Gardner used the debt-ceiling debate to raise the specter of the rise of Nazism in America. Here’s what he said on KFTM radio’s Big Morning Show Jan. 14:

Gardner: I think you’re going to see a whale of a fight over the next two months….

Host: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And really, how is this any different than what Germany went through in the 1930s when you had to literally have wheelbarrows full of German Marks in order to even buy a loaf of bread?

Gardner: Well a period of hyper-inflation, of course, we all know what that led to, the instability economically and what that led to. And we see quantitative easing taking place in the United States. We see devaluation of the dollar. We see inflationary pressures and threats and how that’s being dealt with. And yet there is no clear path to address those concerns. This nation faces the real possibility of a debt depression if we don’t get a hold of the financial situation right now.

Listen to Rep. Gardner on KFTM Radio 1-14-2012 raising specter of Nazism in America .

Coffman has more incentive than Gardner not to go Nazi. Yet he told Fox 31’s Eli Stokols in early January:

Coffman: “But the real big deal is what’s upon us and going past the debt limit. I have to see a way out of this, real spending cuts, before I vote to raise the debt limit.”

The Denver Post’s Curtis Hubbard wrote a column recently pointing out that normal people in Aurora expect normal behavior from Coffman. Hubbard wondered if they’ll get it.

In coming months, he will be a good case study of what competitive districts might  mean for a politician who has typically not worried about the center.

Will he moderate his views to be more in line with the district he serves? Will he continue to be re-elected over weaker opponents? Or will he look — or be sent looking by fed-up voters — for another opportunity.

Hubbard was right about the expectation that Coffman should change his behavior.

But the same could be said of any of the Colorado Republicans serving in Congress, if they want to raise their party’s standing in blue (?) Colorado.

On the debt limit, which CO Repubulican Congressman will break from their comrades and act like a grownup?

Republican talk-radio host should explain why he thinks gays kissing on NBC was “disgusting”

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Correction: On 1-15-13, I corrected this post because the kiss was on NBC, not CNN.

KVOR talk-radio host Jeff Crank and his producer were chatting Jan. 5 about how horribly trashy CNN’s New Year’s Eve special was.

Crank was hating CNN’s Cathy Griffin, who he called a “liberal, leftist scumbag,” and he had nothing kind to say about anchor Anderson Cooper. I don’t love them either, and it sounds like there was plenty to criticize about CNN’s silly New Year’s broadcast.

But one thing that really pissed off Crank, who lost in a vicious GOP primary to Rep. Doug Lamborn in 2008, was NBC’s first on-air kiss of 2013. Here’s what Crank had to say about it:

CRANK:  … You know what they did?  The very first thing, right at the stroke of midnight, you know, all the confetti drops, it’s, “Oh, it’s such a wonderful thing!”  And she turns around and she looks at a guy who is standing there, and I’ve got to tell you , he was a freaky-looking dude,  and she goes, “Isn’t this just wonderful? Happy New Year!” to him.  And he turns around, and his quote-unquote partner turns around, and they kiss each other!

PRODUCER: [inaudible]

CRANK:  Right there!  And [sarcastically] oh, yeah, this was just a heartwarming moment that just happened to come about.  I mean, they just try and push this stuff.  I mean, isn’t that disgusting?

PRODUCER:  That is disgusting.  But we’re in new times now.  It’s good to do that.  It’s cool to do that.  It’s okay to do that.

CRANK:  [laughing]  It’s okay, yeah, yeah, because the President thinks it’s okay.

PRODUCER:  [sarcastically] Yeah.

CRANK:  Look.  But who wants to see – I just don’t want  to see that!  And I don’t want to explain –.  You know, not that the kids are up at midnight, but they are sometimes up at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  It’s maddening, that they get away with this stuff.  And it’s this constant push to change the mores of society.  And yet, somehow we’re the ones that are the social – you know [affecting a curmudgeonly voice] “We’re always pushing our social values on everybody else!”  No.  They are the ones pushing their social values on everybody else.

Listen to audio of Jeff Crank on 740 AM KVOR CO Springs Jan 05_0002

I tweeted Crank, who’s also a national staffer at Americans for Prosperity, to find out if he gets as upset about heteros kissing on NBC. What, specifically, is the problem with a kiss?

And what to do about it? In Tunisia, kissing in public can allegedly land you in jail for months. Who know what would happen to gays.

On radio, Harvey not asked to support his unsubstantiated claim that election-day registration would be “a disaster” for GOP

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

On KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado Jan. 9, State Senator Ted Harvey said he likes to refer to “same-day voter registration” as “same-day voter fraud,” and, he added, “it’s a disaster for the Republican Party.”

Hosts Ken Clark and Jason Worley, didn’t ask Harvey for his evidence that that same-day voter registration results in increased fraud. Maybe because they know there isn’t any, and they didn’t want to embarrass themselves and Harvey.

Also, contrary to Harvey’s assertion, same-day voter registration, allowed in eight states last year, does not favor Democrats over Republicans.

SENATOR TED HARVEY: Election reform. They will do same sex – [correcting himself]—same day voter registration. I call it ‘same day voter fraud’ because you’re going to have people registering to vote all over the state multiple times, and voting multiple times. It’s a disaster for the Republican Party. You’re going to see same – you’re going to see all–mail ballots, in all elections. So that even in partisan elections, you’re going to get all-mail ballots. I have a problem with all-mail ballots for primaries because of the potential for fraud. I really have a problem with all-mail ballots in general elections because people can—a lot of people are worried about the fraud that we saw in the last election when we had ballot booth voting. You’re going to see a lot more of it if you have all-mail ballots, I think.

Talk-radio hosts, even the good folks a Grassroots Radio Colorado, shouldn’t throw out accusations of election fraud without evidence to back them up.

And if they have an elected official on the show, they should raise the bar for rational discourse above the low level where it normally rests in the studio.

Don’t we all want elections that are as fair and inclusive as possible? Allowing Harvey to promote hyperbolic and unsubstantiated accusations of potential election fraud won’t help get us there.

Listen to Sen Harvey on KLZ Radio Jan 9 2013

Reporter lauds “clear-headed” Gardner for understanding the need to expand GOP tent, but fails to note his support of personhood and his hostility toward Hispanics

Friday, January 11th, 2013

In his 5280 Magazine article Jan. 3, taking on the difficult topic of “What’s Wrong with Colorado Republicans?” Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols writes:

Stokols: “What the GOP needs to realize is that the immigration issue offers Republicans themselves a sort of political amnesty, a chance to forge a solution that legitimately and thoroughly addresses questions of border security and citizenship without alienating Hispanics.”

And who’s his example of a Colorado Republican who’s leading the charge? Rep. Cory Gardner.

Stokols: “Only clear-headed Republicans such as Gardner are beginning to internalize this new reality.”

Stokols, who’s widely regarded as the leading political journalist on TV in Denver, quotes Gardner:

Gardner: “Republicans have always talked about having a big tent, but it doesn’t do any good if the tent doesn’t have any chairs in it. Bringing Latinos to the forefront, bringing women in is absolutely critical.”

That sounds good, but it’s hard to find anything about Gardner’s record that supports what he told Stokols, and you have to wonder why Stokols failed to point this out. (See Stokols’ response below.)

With respect to women, Gardner not only voted to redefine rape, but is a full-on supporter of the personhood amendment, which would ban abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest, as well as common forms of birth control.

In this video, Gardner says: “I have signed the personhood petition. I have taken the petitions to my church, and circulating into my church. And I have a legislative record that backs up my support for life.” Personhood initiative leader Kristi Brown (formerly Kristi Burton) called Gardner “one of our main supporters” during the 2008 initiative campaign.

Stokols should have asked Gardner why, with these views and others, Gardner’s own presence in the GOP tent wouldn’t scare away women.

Gardner’s position on immigration would send Hispanics fleeing from the GOP tent along with the female humans.

In the Colorado Legislature, even when illegal immigrants were routinely attacked by both parties, he took some of the cruelist positions against illegal immigrants, including a 2006 vote against allowing state funds to be used for undocumented children to receive preventative care, like immunizations.

More recently, in 2010, in his race against Rep. Betsy Markey, Gardner made it clear he opposes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, unless you’d call no path at all reasonable. As first reported by Huffington Post blogger Jesse Benn, and confirmed by me, Gardner wrote:

Gardner: Over the weekend, Markey told the Coloradoan newspaper she opposes amnesty but believes that immigration reform should include a path to citizenship.

The problem with Markey’s position is that “amnesty” and a “path to citizenship” is the same thing. Any proposal that allows people who are here illegally to cut to the front of the line is amnesty.

America is a nation of laws, and it is wrong for Congresswoman Markey to propose bending the rules for a group of people whose first act in this country was to break the law.

Congresswoman Markey is sending a clear message to millions of illegal immigrants that coming to America illegally carries no penalty. That is the wrong message.

Is that a sample of the friendly messages Gardner will be sending Hispanics?

Just this past June, he not only bashed Metro State University’s plan to reduce tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, he also again condemned the concept of helping any undocumented college student anywhere:

Gardner: And, of course, I oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. I think it’s the wrong policy. It sets the wrong kind of message to people who are in the country illegally. And I think we’ve got to work on border security before anything else, and I think Metro State has it backwards.

Maybe Gardner has changed over the past two years–or over the past six months? You wouldn’t think so, from looking at his position on immigration on his congressional website:

Gardner: Our first line of defense against illegal immigration is the border, and it is the federal government’s job to make sure that it is secure. Americans are tired of watching the political establishment lack the will to enforce our nation’s laws when it comes to border security and immigration policy.

The solution to the problem isn’t for the Justice Department to file a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the Governor of Arizona for responding to a law enforcement crisis. It isn’t giving amnesty to the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in this country, or giving those people benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration.

The time has come to enforce the rule of law and end illegal immigration. To that end, I will support legislation that ensures employers only hire people who are here legally and that guest workers are here temporarily. The technology exists to accomplish this in a sensible way, and it is time that we implement that technology.

Where’s the Hispanic love here? If anything, Gardner’s putting himself in the teeny-weeny tent occupied by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who’s mad at Obama for, for among other things, standing up for basic civil rights for Hispanic-American citizens.

Gardner’s current position says nothing about the comprehensive immigration reform that Gardner told Stokols will pass this year. Nothing about a path to citizenship or the Dream Act. Nothing about families and the great history of immigration in America. It’s just a bunch of meaniness, some thinly disguised, some not.

So (deep breath), why didn’t Fox 31’s Stokols ask Gardner about some of this stuff, instead of just praising him as “clear-headed” and writing that he’s “beginning to internalize” the need for the GOP to change its ways.

Stokols: “Rep. Cory Gardner’s past votes on women’s issues and positions on immigration are well worth examining and do seem to mirror those espoused by Mitt Romney, Todd Akin and other prominent Republicans who have collectively alienated women and Latino voters from the GOP generally,” Stokols told me via email. “I could have chosen to point that out but did not, this being a piece focused on the state’s shifting political persuasion and the lessons to be learned from the 2012 election results. My recent conversations with Cory took place following that election and, his past votes and statements notwithstanding, he indeed seemed to have learned those lessons and to be newly ‘clear-headed’ about the challenges now facing his party. Whether his own votes and statements have contributed to or exacerbated those challenges is another issue, but a relevant one — and an issue that I’m sure Democrats will be exploring further as long as Gardner’s stock continues to rise.”

It’s fair enough to report that Gardner recognizes the need to diversify his party, but, still, Stokols’ long-form article on why such change needs to happen would have been better had he asked Gardner for a scrap of substance showing what change looks like for Gardner himself, given his record.

Radio host fails to explore ramifications of Gardner’s idea to possibly eliminate U.S. Department of Energy

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Everyone remembers Gov. Rick Perry’s magnificent “Oops moment,” during the Republican presidential primary, when he suggested cutting three, count ’em, three federal agencies: the 1) Education Department, 2) Commerce Department, and 3) ???????????????.

Who remembers the last one?

It was the Energy Department!

It looks like Rep. Cory Gardner would have been able to get the words “Energy Department” out of his mouth if he’d been in Perry’s shoes, because our Congressman from the 4th Congressional District has the Energy Department on his own list for possible elimination.

On KFKA radio’s Amy Oliver Show Tuesday, Gardner suggested that the federal Energy Department is “something we ought to look at and see whether or not they are actually justified to be there anyway.”

OLIVER: Give me your thoughts on – and I’m sure you’ve heard—you served with him when you were in Legislature and he was the governor of the state of Colorado, the idea that Governor Bill Ritter is on the short list for Energy Secretary.

GARDNER: [chuckles] Governor Ritter is a nice guy. And I’m sure, you know, he is somebody you’d love to have a beer with. I was never invited, I don’t think, [laughing] to have a beer with him, but if you were I’m sure he’d be a nice guy to have a beer with! But I don’t think he’s the right person for the Secretary of Energy. In fact, Energy Department is something we ought to look at and see whether or not they are actually justified to be there anyway. So, let’s have a conversation about what we can do to consolidate and eliminate some of these spending programs, especially programs that aren’t working because of Solyndras and other wasted program spending. And I don’t think Bill Ritter is the right one to lead that conversation.

Full transcript and audio here.

You’d think KFKA host Amy Oliver, who rails against federal agencies like the EPA, would have been ecstatic, after hearing Gardner’s comments. I thought she might have said something like, “I was dying when Rick Perry couldn’t spit out ‘Energy Department,’ and you did it so eloquently, with no oops or hesitation. Thank you.”

But she stayed calm, like she did in 2011 when Gardner suggested on Oliver’s program that the Department of Transportation should be eliminated. He later changed his tune.

Oliver asked Gardner if there was sufficient political will to eliminate the Energy Department:

OLIVER: …I know that there isn’t the political will to eliminate the Department of Energy, even though I would love that. Is there ever any conversation about at least, not just reducing the amount of growth, but simply cutting a department’s budget?

GARDNER: That’s exactly what I meant by saying a decrease in the rate of increase isn’t enough. We have got to cut department spending, and I think that yes, if you look at the budget that we passed out of the House, we eliminated entire agencies and programs. Now, there were conversations early on last year about eliminating the Department of Commerce, or consolidating Department of Commerce with various functions.

It’s no fun to talk about specifics when you’ve got the budget ax out, but right then, at that point in the interview, would have been a great time for Oliver to get specific with Gardner about what Energy Department programs might be cut.

The renewable energy research budget? Nuclear weapons production and maintenance? Energy conservation? Fossil fuel and nuclear research programs? All of it?

Oliver knows a fair amount about energy issues. She had a great moment to trot out an intelligent question, or a specific question on what she’d cut, but she failed us, leaving the job to a reporter who cares about meaningful public-policy debate, not just bloviation.