Mile-High Headlines for Monday, September 15

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Udall Unhappy About Attacks
“Mark Udall is not a happy camper,” writes Politico. After being slammed in a television commercial by the conservative Freedom’s Watch for his initial support of a Department of Peace, the Boulder Democratic congressman, who is running against Republican Bob Schaffer for U.S. Senate, wants it “yanked from the airwaves.” The ad features a hippie getting all groovy on the legislation by an old-school Volkswagen van filled with what appears to be a haze of marijuana smoke. Attorney Douglas Friednash has issued a cease and desist letter to KUSA and KTFD. Friednash’s biggest concern is the implication that Udall is associated with pot, according to Politico. In 1972, Udall pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor involving possession of marijuana, according to this Colorado Springs Independent article, written by yours truly, an experience that Udall has said led him to change his life for the better. Raj Chohan at CBS4 puts the “Cheech and Chong” attack ad to the truth test, concluding that Udall backed away from the proposal long ago, and the ad’s implication that Udall voted against funding troops because of the measure “appears to be false.”

Obama and Palin Hit Colorado Today
By the time you read this, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama will be campaigning hard at opposite ends of Colorado. Palin heads to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds this morning, as Obama speaks in Grand Junction. This afternoon, Obama hits Pueblo, and then on Tuesday he’ll be at the Colorado School of Mines. A common theme here is Golden, part of Colorado’s Seventh Congressional District, which is split almost evenly between Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated voters. If battleground Colorado is a swing state, then the fight in this district is especially important to both Obama and John McCain’s presidential campaigns, according to 9News. As Obama campaigned over the weekend, The New York Times and The Washington Post published investigations of Palin.

Salazar: We Can’t Drill Our Way to Energy Independence
As President George W. Bush pushes Congress to remove offshore drilling prohibitions–a bid to possibly ease gasoline prices in some far-off future–U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, a Democrat, says the GOP’s pleas to “drill, baby drill” aren’t enough to solve the nation’s difficult energy problems. In a recent radio address, Salazar acknowledges record gas prices have led to calls for increased domestic oil production but says that lifting the offshore drilling ban wouldn’t yield results until after the first term of the next president. Bush is using the issue to help his party, equating offshore drilling to supporting American consumers at the gas pump. But House Democrats, who will push an energy plan this week that requires power plants to use alternative fuels and oil companies to pay more in royalties to taxpayers, will seek to quell the issue by granting limited offshore drilling while pushing for increased development of renewable energy, according to The Denver Post. (Click here to listen to 5280 executive editor Maximillian Potter talk about Senator Ken Salazar and the related feature from the August edition of the magazine.)

Focus on the Family Invests Heavily in California’s Same-Sex Marriage Proposal
Colorado Springs’ Focus on the Family is among the top donors to a ballot initiative in California that aims to outlaw same-gender marriage, a proposal that’s been cast as perhaps the nation’s most important battle ever over the issue. Between December and July, the conservative evangelical Focus gave more than $448,000 to pass Proposition 8, which aims to circumvent a court’s decision that marriage is a fundamental right regardless of sexual orientation, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. Much of the money went to Elsa Prince, a member of Focus’ board, has put up $450,000 to back the measure, which is also supported by groups such as the Knights of Columbus, American Family Association, and the National Organization for Marriage. Anthony M. Brown, executive director of gay-marriage-backing Wedding Party, writes in Gay City News that conservative groups have “spared no effort in clouding the issue, distorting the truth, and diverting focus from what our right to marry really means….”

Colorado Volunteers Head to Texas
In the wake of Hurricane Ike, volunteers from several Colorado relief agencies are Texas-bound. Eighty-five volunteers for the American Red Cross and workers for Humanitarian International Services Group, which helps coordinate relief efforts, are among those aiding in recovery efforts, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Xcel Energy dispatched a convoy of 18 diesel trucks and six other trucks with 48 workers who will link up with 32 fellow Xcel workers from Minneapolis in the fight to restore electricity to millions of Texans. As of last night, rescue crews had saved 2,000 people from watery streets and were planning to keep checking door to door for those who did not leave their homes during the storm, according to The Associated Press (via The Denver Post). The hurricane has affected oil production, according to the Los Angeles Times, leading to a jump in gas prices, 30 to 60 cents per gallon over the weekend in some regions–and $5 a gallon in other places–which haven’t yet appeared to affect Colorado.

Cutler and Shanahan Heros After Gamble
Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler rode a roller coaster on Sunday as the clock ticked down against the Chargers at Invesco Field, according to The Denver Post. Down by seven points, Cutler made a nearly disastrous flub with the Chargers’ end zone in sight but recovered quickly and led his team to a touchdown, signaling afterward to coach Mike Shanahan to go for a two-point conversion and win. Shanahan agreed, in a gamble that could have lost the game. Instead, the Broncos pulled off a 39-38 victory and have the lead in the AFC West with a 2-0 record.

Armstrong Team Wins Snowmass Bike Race
Lance Armstrong, who on Wednesday announced his hopes of returning to the Tour de France by next summer, was a winner in the inaugural 12 Hours of Snowmass mountain bike race over the weekend. His three-man Team Aspen/Live Strong beat Team Beaver Creek by six minutes and 39 seconds in the 119-mile race, according to The Denver Post, which quotes the seven-time Tour de France champ as saying he was “certainly not the strongest guy in the race,” crediting his Roaring Fork Valley teammates, Max Taam and Len Zanni, for the win.

Popovich Impressive at Paralympics
After winning four gold and two silver medals in swimming at the Paralympics in Beijing, it’s hard not to compare Erin Popovich to Michael Phelps, who won eight golds during the Olympics. Popovich, who has a form of dwarfism, trained with Colorado State University’s swim team and has won 10 gold medals in her last two Paralympics, according to the Associated Press (via USA Today).

Videodose: In honor of presidential campaigning in Colorado today–and in case you missed it–Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former presidential candidate New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton are parodied on Saturday Night Live by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, respectively.

Cheapest Gallon of Gas ‘Round Here: $3.49, Diamond Shamrock, 19302 East Plaza Drive (via