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Capitol Hill Billys

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Today, just before lunch, Bill Ritter was sworn in as the 41st Governor of the Colorful State of Colorado. As el jefe nuevo of our square state, Ritter would do well to take a cue from the behavior of his predecessor, the illustrious Bill Owens, during his last days in office.

Last week, a few days before officially joining the civilian ranks, Owens checked in with his old pals at 103.5 the Fox, Lewis and Floorwax. "I'm so relaxed," he said, "that my press secretary, Dan Hopkins, is worried about these last five days. The old internal governor is off."

And how.

Owens was surprisingly outspoken as he discussed the state's disaster-relief efforts in southeastern Colorado. His refreshing frankness, no doubt a byproduct of his lame-duck status, reminded me of a couplet from David Wilcox's "Start With the Ending," in which the singer suggests that the secret to a happy marriage is starting at the end of the relationship. "When there's no pretending," he asserts, "then the truth is safe to say."

But truth is relative, depending on your stance on that whole Meat Is Murder debate. And during the interview, Owens threw cold water in the face of political correctness as he cavalierly referred to PETA as "a bunch of losers" and "frauds."

Ouch.

His matter-of-fact commentary was spurred by an earlier, humorous exchange between Floorwax and a particularly aloof PETA representative. In his customary languid cadence, Floorwax lobbied the PETA ambassador to urge her organization to pitch in on relief efforts alongside the Colorado National Guard and pointed out that he, along with Lewis and their listeners, had raised money that they'd like to donate to help the snowbound cattle.

"You're going to save them," the increasingly frustrated rep intoned, "and then in six months, they're going to be killed and end up on somebody's plate. So I don't know that it's the most noble cause."

Owens had no trouble deciding what to do. "I've just signed an excutive order," he told Lewis and Floorwax, "to have the Colorado National Guard, at some risk to those men and women, try to save these cattle. And it's amazing that PETA doesn't want us to feed freezing cattle."

When the Masters reiterated the PETA rep's why-save-that-which-will-ultimately-be-killed position, Owens replied, "It would be the difference between freezing to death in a very painful way over a period of days, versus a very merciful slaughtering for a good purpose -- which is human food."

Whether you agree with Owens's sentiments or not, you gotta admit that every now and then it's refreshing to hear a politician shoot straight.-- Dave Herrera

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