Free Paris!

Paris Hilton is scheduled to be released from jail today. At last, all is right with the world.

Michael Moore was in Denver yesterday to discuss his new health care documentary, “Sicko,” as well as attending a rally at the West Steps of the State Capitol. Bianca Pietro of the Rocky Mountain News has more:

The movie, due to be released Friday, is an examination of the country’s health insurance industry and Moore’s view of what should be done to change it.
An Aurora woman, Donna Smith, was featured in the film about her struggle with the health care industry.

“Some lost all they had worked for, and some lost their lives,” Smith said at the rally. “No Coloradan – no American – should ever have the want for adequate health care.”

The Oscar-winning filmmaker, wearing a black T-shirt and a baseball cap, attended the rally to promote the new film.

Moore spoke for several minutes to the crowd about the war in Iraq, George W. Bush, the mainstream media and the health care system.

“In other societies and countries, it is the worst thing to do to let too many people slip between the cracks because the whole society suffers,” Moore said.
He also said the cost of the Iraq war could cover government- funded health care…

…Nathan Wilkes balked openly at what he said was the ridiculousness of getting a divorce to receive health care.

His solution is to de-privatize insurance and make it a government-funded benefit for all citizens.

“Band-Aids do not work on a system that is hemorrhaging,” Nathan Wilkes said, drawing cheers.


The state Republican Party is confident that it can turn things around and regain some control in Colorado. But expectations are being lowered faster than goals for President Bush’s last 18 months. As Karen Crummy of The Denver Post reports:

Nearly three years after losing both chambers of the legislature to the Democrats, Colorado Republicans are plotting a comeback – but not until 2010.

Divisive primaries, campaign-finance reform and the inability to financially keep pace with Democrats have seriously weakened the party’s muscle, GOP leaders say. And that can’t be fixed in time for next year’s election.

“It’s a challenge to win back either the House or Senate next year,” state GOP chairman Dick Wadhams said. “We hope to make inroads in 2008, but we’ve been on a four-year plan.”…

…Democrats have a 13-person edge in the state House and five-person margin in the Senate. While Wadhams won’t disclose which seats he thinks are vulnerable for Democrats, he did say six Senate seats and 10 to 12 House seats are on his radar. However, some of those Senate seats aren’t up for election next year.

To be competitive, the GOP is focusing on candidate recruitment and rebuilding financially. Wadhams said that while he inherited debt from the last chairman, the party will be “amply funded” for the next two elections.
At the end of last year, the party had only $50 in its state account. Through March 31 of this year, the party raised $34,000 and has about $11,000 left. The GOP raised $278,338 this year for its federal account but currently has $22,113 in it.

While the Republican Party’s cash on hand appears low, the Democrats’ accounts aren’t in much better shape. Colorado Democrats raised more than the GOP this year – $421,903 for the party’s federal account and $66,160 for the state account – but have just $15,880 on hand.

With the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver and Wadhams’ predictions for less-than- stellar state elections, some Republicans quietly have voiced concerns over whether the state party can raise the cash it needs to help state candidates and get out the vote for federal contenders.


With one week to go until the end of the second quarter fundraising efforts, The Washington Post takes a look at the fundraising gap for Presidential contenders:

Twelve weeks ago, after raising less money than two other Republican candidates in the first three months of 2007, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the early favorite for his party’s presidential nomination, declared that it was his fault, said he hoped “to get better” at it and reorganized his finance team.

This week he said it hasn’t worked out too well, acknowledging that raising money is “very tough” and allowing that “we weren’t going to win this campaign on money anyway.”

On the Democratic side, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina had vowed that he, too, would improve on a weak first-quarter showing. But this week, Joe Trippi, a senior aide, e-mailed supporters with news that the campaign is only two-thirds of the way to its relatively modest fundraising goal.

Edwards and McCain are two prominent victims of the widening money gap between the front-runners and the rest of the field, a separation that will be apparent when the campaigns file their fundraising reports on the second quarter, which ends next Saturday.

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) are each expected to hit the $25 million mark — at least — for money raised since April 1, a feat that reflects their continuing ability to reach deep into their Democratic constituency. Among the Republicans, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani are said to be repeating their impressive first-quarter takes.

Former senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who is not yet officially a GOP candidate, seems on track to reach his goal of raising about $5 million in just one month, according to advisers. And New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is barely registering in most polls, has told other Democrats that he expects to raise more money than Edwards this quarter.


Drinking Liberally, the thriving Colorado organization largely overseen by John Erhardt, gets some good press in the current issue of Westword:

Coloradans do not believe in moderation. As proof, consider that this small state boasts a dozen chapters of Drinking Liberally, the second-largest showing outside of California for the four-year-old group that’s now 212 chapters strong, with each of them devoted to “promoting democracy one pint at a time.” And this month, Drinking Liberally Denver is spilling over into another regular event: Reading Liberally.

“Reading Liberally is a new direction taken by Living Liberally,” explains Jay Hazen, who, along with Lauren Turnage, is hosting this latest offspring. “Its first big push was with Drinking Liberally as a social club, so that the progressive movement could not only stay in touch socially, but talk out the issues of the day.”

How does he account for Drinking Liberally’s popularity in this town? “I’m sure the microbrews have something to do with it,” Hazen admits, “but the state has been changing, too. Little by little, we’re seeing inroads being made by candidates who are not part of this radical conservative agenda.”

Call me a stick in the mud, but drinking with liberals sounds like a lot more fun than reading with liberals.


Drilling on the Roan Plateau has emerged as a major issue on the Western Slope, with locals hoping to preserve the natural landscape. But as The Associated Press reports, even if drilling does commence, the profit it will generate is uncertain:

Supporters of oil and gas leasing on the scenic Roan Plateau say the leases could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars needed to deal with impacts already being felt from the industry’s expansion.
“If that gets dropped in our lap, it could solve a lot of problems,” said Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, of the revenues.

He said if current lease rates were paid, up to $1 billion could be generated.

But the industry says that does not seem likely. And Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, said the projections are not a sure thing.

“The dollar numbers are coming from the industry and are based on a fairly high number per acre, so the dollar amounts aren’t really known,” she told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel…

…Greg Schnacke, executive vice president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said he thinks $500 million is closer to the amount likely to be paid.

Environmental restrictions imposed by the Bureau of Land Management will lower the value of the leases, he said.


Both the news media and Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey are under fire for the way they publicized the case of former Denver City Attorney Larry Manzanares, who committed suicide on Friday. As John Ensslin and Julie Poppen of the Rocky Mountain News report:

The death of Larry Manzanares has raised several sharp ethical questions about the news media and prosecutors for the way the case against the former Denver judge and city attorney was filed and covered.

Several friends and colleagues of Manzanares blamed the media in general, and the Rocky Mountain News in particular, for what they felt was sensational treatment of the fact that pornography was discovered on a stolen state court laptop computer found in his possession.

Others were critical of Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey, special prosecutor in the case, for including the pornography allegations in an affidavit filed to support charges of theft, embezzlement, evidence tampering, computer crime and official misconduct against Manzanares.

Manzanares resigned as Denver city attorney in February after news of the stolen laptop became public. He said he bought the computer from a man in a parking lot and did not know it was stolen.

The 50-year-old lawyer was found Friday under a bridge near the Highline Canal adjacent to Eisenhower Park, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Denver police said. Just a few hours before, Manzanares had appeared in court on the charges.

Michael Canges, a Denver lawyer who was a friend and colleague of Manzanares, said he was appalled at the media’s coverage of the criminal charges.

“He was a thoroughly decent human being who did not deserve the treatment he received from the press, particularly the Rocky Mountain News. It was disgusting,” Canges said.

While Canges said he understands that the media had to cover the story, he said the prosecutor’s office and the media placed too much emphasis on the adult videos.
“There is not a male over the age of puberty that has not – at some point or another – got into adult videos or that type of thing,” Canges said.

He also was critical of the prosecutor’s decision to hold a press conference to announce the charges.

“Calling a press conference was unnecessary. It was designed really to savage this man,” Canges said. “At the end of the day, he’s a public figure who at best committed the transgression of taking an item to which he wasn’t entitled, with the value of $500 or $600.”

Storey could not be reached for comment Sunday. He had been appointed special prosecutor in the case to avoid a potential conflict of Denver prosecutors reviewing it.


M.E. Sprengelmeyer of the Rocky Mountain News takes a look at Democratic Presidential contender Bill Richardson, who has strong ties to local leaders in Colorado:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is a man in motion.

His hands never stop moving when he makes a point about Iraq. His body sways as he talks about energy policy. His face contorts with each mention of President Bush.

Now Richardson is trying to move in a different direction: up – as in up from fourth place in most of the Democratic polls.

Richardson is trying to do that by taking the toughest stand for withdrawing troops from Iraq, by pitching his international r

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