Surprise, Surprise: John Hickenlooper Calls Todd Shepherd On 850 KOA

Kudos to my friend and colleague Todd Shepherd (of Complete Colorado fame) for catching a surprise exclusive live interview with Colorado’s new governor. In the middle of hosting the Sunday afternoon show on 850 KOA, Todd’s jaw hit the floor when none other than John Hickenlooper heard his name being discussed and called in to the show while en route from Pueblo to an event in Colorado Springs.

Click here for the full hour’s audio: the Hickenlooper call starts about halfway through (not to be completely overshadowed is Todd’s discussion with Colorado RNC committeeman and former state treasurer Mark Hillman at the top of the hour).

Todd took a few minutes to get the softballs out of the way. But then he went to work with a series of polite but pointed questions made with the urgency of someone who believed he may never get a second chance. Among other things, Todd got Hickenlooper to publicly declare an official policy of transparency regarding his use of cell phones (see the controversy with Colorado’s previous Democratic administration), to clear up conflicting stories about his knowledge of Denver’s infamous 2009 LoDo beatings, and to announce he would be willing to make a return visit to the Caplis and Silverman Show after previously ducking the LoDo issue (MP3).

Hickenlooper acknowledged up front that he knew Todd’s investigative work has been highly critical of him as Denver mayor and prospective governor. (Check out Todd’s August 29, 2010, legendary posting “Revoking Hick’s free pass,” if you don’t know what I mean.) That brought home two salient points to me. First, it explained well the governor’s cool, amiable responses to several uncomfortable inquiries.

But second, it raised questions about the apparent political calculus of calling into the show in the first place. I’m willing and open to entertain theories anyone would like to introduce. Some form of triangulation? Channeling Sun Tzu or Michael Corleone to “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”? Interested in finding creative ways to take a proactive policy of transparency with the new administration? Or maybe Hick was just sincerely flattered by Todd’s clever and well-executed Real Gubernatorial Genius parodies?

Regardless, following the recent “nonpartisan” State of the State speech and Sunday’s radio interview, I have a higher estimation of our new governor than before — and certainly higher than my estimation of his predecessor, Bill Ritter. Now don’t get me wrong. We still have our share of disagreements. New developments can change perceptions and invite critical responses. And there still are plenty of questions remaining to be answered (like, why not repeal the executive order unionizing state employees?).

But given a governor with a D behind his name, Colorado conservatives like myself could not hope for much better. Well, maybe we could hope for Todd to get another chance to interview Hickenlooper and ask him more questions sometime.

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