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Rundles wrap up: Let’s give ’em something to talk about

As a committed news junkie, I read a lot of newspapers, listen to a ton of radio news and talk programs, watch a slew of television news and informational shows and peruse the Web and blogosphere. And they run the gamut, from those with a conservative bent to those the conservatives deem liberal (which is to say most of the mainstream media), and, of course given the Web, the absurd and downright weird.

I used to listen occasionally to Air America – an attempt by liberals to counteract conservative talk radio – but it died from lack of interest and very poor quality. Conservative talk radio, not to mention conservative television “news,” is also of poor quality, but seems to maintain high interest. In any case, this isn’t about being liberal or conservative, but rather an attempt to keep up with the news and the interpretations on what it all means. I wish I could say I was more informed given the various and growing outlets for information, but flabbergasted would be a more appropriate adjective.

Whatever. I’m attempting to be well-rounded, although misshapen is probably more accurate. That so many outlets feature hosts, contributors and adherents who seem so sure of themselves, it seems Fitzgerald may have been right when he said, “Life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.” I wouldn’t know; I’m a generalist.

But what I have noticed from absorbing all this news is that Colorado is getting mentioned more and more all the time. We used to be the state known best for skiing and Coors beer, but we have more recently taken leadership positions for so many other things, and not all of them positives – well, subject to your own single window.

For instance, every time there is a shooting now – and that, sadly, is way too often – it is compared to or put in the context of “Aurora.” They don’t even add in the details anymore; “Aurora,” unfortunately, says it all. It used to be “Columbine,” but now “Sandy Hook” has taken that terrible spotlight. In any case, whenever anyone discusses mentally ill nut jobs and violence, Colorado takes center stage.

Which, of course, leads to another arena where Colorado holds sway: gun control. The Gun lobby and the Anti-gun lobby both hold Colorado up as an exemplar of why their particular point of view – the 2nd Amendment vs. stronger gun controls –  is the right one.

And, of course, we are now (notoriously) recognized in the discussion of marijuana. First, we took a leadership position on medical marijuana, and now we are the poster child for so-called recreational marijuana use, too. The Mile High City, indeed – if we had a nickel for every time that reference has been made, we wouldn’t need the new pot tax we just passed.

Another key arena where Colorado is getting notice is its recall elections. Two Democrat senators down, one more in the crosshairs, and we are now the template for the never-ending ballot box, all based on day-to-day votes at the state house. Should make for a highly entertaining legislative session beginning in January, and a wild and woolly campaign season next year with, no doubt, more national spotlight. 

There are other issues that will bring national scrutiny to Colorado, you can be sure. Everybody wants energy independence to lessen the influence of OPEC, and yet when the cost is fracking in your neighborhood, we are decidedly NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard – as evidenced by the votes in northern Colorado last month. How many times do you think Colorado will be cited when everyone starts planning the final route of the Keystone XL pipeline? 

Oh yeah, everybody knows Colorado – that wacky, conservative/liberal, gun control/2nd Amendment, crazy-guy shoot-‘em-up, pot-nuts, recall, 51st State,  NIMBY, Wild West location where just about anything can, and frequently does, happen.  Be proud. We are trendsetters. We are Leaders. All eyes are on us.

Bonnie Raitt sings, Let’s Give ‘Em Something to Talk About. Who knew that would become the state anthem? 

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Jeff Rundles

Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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