Fantasy presidential nominations for Ross Perot, Olympia Snowe, and John Hickenlooper, along with bouquets for Douglas County school vouchers and brickbats for the Denver police, enliven the air waves this month as Head On completes its 15th year on Colorado Public Television. John Andrews on the right and Susan Barnes-Gelt on the left offer their annual backward glance at winners and sinners of the old year and gaze into a cracked crystal ball for headlines of the year to come. This month John and Susan also spar over Hickenlooper's report card, Obama's chances in 2012, and fracking. Here are all five scripts for December:
1. WINNERS & SINNERS OF 2011
John: Thanks so much for listening as Head On completes 15 years on Colorado Public Television. It’s time again for Colorado winners and sinners of the old year. Thumbs up for Douglas County vouchers, the Pat Sullivan arrest, and the amazing Tim Tebow. Thumbs down for Aurora corporate welfare and the redistricting mess.
Susan: Thumbs down to Curt Fentress’s faux federalist, new state courthouse at 14th and Lincoln; the clueless National Western Stock Show and the Regional Transportation District’s breathtaking incompetence. Thumbs up to the new Clyfford Still Museum, David Tryba’s Colorado History Museum, and Denver’s new Crime Lab at 14th and Cherokee.
John: So, a crime lab connoisseur, are we? More of my winners and sinners include thumbs up Scott Gessler and Walker Stapleton, shaking up state government, and for the taxed-out voters who crushed Proposition 103. Thumbs down for the power-grabbing judge who ordered billions more in state aid to education.
Susan: Sinners: Text messaging Denver cops; Scott Gessler - a partisan political hack, not a statewide elected official accountable to every voter; Wall Street bankers who hedge against their clients; Winners: Coloradans. All of us are lucky to live in a state replete with natural beauty, a gentle climate and Colorado Public Television 12.
2. FEARLESS PREDICTIONS FOR 2012
John: Goodbye, 2011. Hello, Susan and John’s fearless predictions for 2012. Put on your crash helmet, Barnes-Gelt. This is gonna be a wild one. The stock show moves to Limon, out where the cattle are. Occupy Denver moves to Glenwood Springs for a bath. A deadlocked Republican convention drafts Hickenlooper.
Susan: U.S. Senators and Congressionals are permanently attached to lie detector machines; the occupy movement and tea partiers form a successful third party and nominate Ross Perot; text messaging goes the way of the phone booth; the Catholic Church ordains women and pigs fly!
John: Air traffic controllers land those pigs – which is called bringing home the bacon – as Facebook buys the US Postal Service, Diana DeGette leaves Congress to replace Whoopi Goldberg on The View, and Donald Trump’s hair is enshrined at the Smithsonian. What a year we have ahead!
Susan: Repub’s nominate Olympia Snowe for president; Colorado voters abolish Amendment 23, TABOR & the Gallagher amendment; Washington DC reverts to a swamp and Denver becomes the U.S. capitol. My button bracelets become the decade’s fashion rage and each and every one of you have a happy and healthy 2012!
3. ELECTION YEAR ALMOST HERE
John: Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, politically written off last summer, was on the comeback trail as 2011 ended. But Iowa and New Hampshire will have their say as 2012 begins, and Romney or some other Republican could jump ahead again. The ultimate comeback would be an Obama victory in November. Never underestimate the incumbent.
Susan: Mitt, Newt, Newt, Mitt, Newt Mitt – hmmmmmmm. When petulant professor, 1990’s whiner Newt is the flavor of the month for the Republican – not-Mitt posse – cast about for a viable alternative to Hope & Change. I’m betting on a third party candidate – Ron Paul? Trump? What a circus!
John: Barack Obama will go down as one of the worst presidents in history, and he’ll lose next fall. Economic futility and foreign policy weakness disqualify him for a second term. Perry, Santorum, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich, or Huntsman could all do better. Not party, not ideology, but simple competence will decide this one.
Susan: Competence: Huntsman’s the only competent choice and he won’t get there. Perry doesn’t know there are 9 members of the Supreme Court? Repubs who served with Gingrich say he’s unpredictable and mercurial; Romney – which one? The moderate, the conservative? The hedge fund bandit? The liberal governor of Massachusetts? Flop! Flip!
4. FRACKING SPURS ENERGY BOOM, BUT IS IT SAFE?
Susan: To frack or not to frack? Hydraulic fracking, the trendy new oil & gas production technique used in Colorado and other mountain states has been linked to groundwater pollution. Fracking pumps fluid into wells under pressure, fracturing rock and releasing oil and gas. OOOPS – here we go again.
John: One country on earth, America, impairs prosperity, quality of life, and national security by denying its people the full benefit of their own energy resources. Reason enough right there to fire Obama and the Democratic Senate in 2012. The phony panic over fracking is a green hoax as bad as global warming.
Susan: John, you’re too smart to ignore science. It’s not just the greens who worry about damage to the environment. Maybe you don’t care if your water is tainted by fracking or the air you breath full of particulates. Reality doesn’t go away because you chose to ignore it!
John: Hydraulic fracturing to release oil and gas reserves on a Saudi Arabian scale is producing tremendous benefits to Colorado, a dozen other states, and our whole country in terms of jobs, wealth, energy independence. More benefits await. Fracking only occurs with tight environmental safeguards. Don’t let Chicken Little shut it down.
5. HICKENLOOPER REPORT CARD
Susan: One year into his first term, John Teflon Hickenlooper continues to be popular. His aw shucks, a-partisan, can’t we all just get along approach to governing is particularly refreshing compared to the venal and mean-spirited personalities of most partisan-pols. His approach is good for Colorado.
John: A flat economy isn’t good for Colorado. Neither are mediocre schools and crowded prisons. Voters didn’t hire Gov. Hickenlooper to be the likable feller in a Western movie, the sequel to City Slickers. They hired him to be the chief executive of our state, and so far he’s done zilch.
Susan: I wish that Governor John Hickenlooper could wave his magic wand: create jobs, fix the schools and overhaul the prisons. Sadly – neither he nor any other elected official has that power. A healthy economy, great schools and a rational penal system depend on rational people negotiating rational decisions.
John: No question Hick is probably a great guy to have a beer with. He could brew the beer for you. But that was two jobs ago. After a year in his current job as Colorado CEO, the ambitious Hickenlooper has no accomplishments or vision to point to. That’s a C in my gradebook.