How did it get to be fashionable to beat up on California again? Going on 16 years ago, when I was a newcomer to our great state, Texas and Cali were Colorado's straw men.
My accent, I learned to point out, was Deep South, not East Texas. If something was bad, from enchiladas to slang, we blamed Texas.
These days, entrenched Coloradans have kind of a "whatcha gonna do?" attitude about Texans, but the war on California has again erupted into rhetorical guns-ablazin', though the Golden State couldn't be bothered to shoot back.
Hyperbole is the mother's milk of politics, and Colorado's got milk.
There is no comparison between La-La land and the Mile High City. They have a galaxy of stars. We have, um, John Hickenlooper. The political train rumbling across Colorado is not the California Zephyr.
So blame George Brauchler.
He made Cali-bashing cool again. Brauchler didn't invent the sport by a long shot, but when he says things, they sound cool. And he had the spotlight to himself Nov. 14, as he switched from the governor's race to the attorney general's. Brauchler sized up the top Democrats in next year's race for Colorado Politics' Ernest Luning. "It's one thing to run the risk of a Gov. Jared Polis, but to have a Gov. Jared Polis and an Attorney General Joe Salazar? We will become California," he predicted.
Polis backs renewable energy and public education, while Salazar backs civil rights and Bernie Sanders.
Let's check some facts. Los Angeles has a 30 percent higher cost of living than Denver, and housing - that thing we lose our minds about the most - is 69 percent cheaper in Colorado's biggest city compared to California's, according to Sperling's Best Places. (FWIW, health care and food are cheaper in L.A.)
We've got a long way to go before we're surfing on Lake Dillon.
If anything they're chasing after us. On New Year's Day. California's legal weed industry is open for business. Colorado did that four years ago.
Colorado Politics columnist Peggy Noonan back in June urged, "Don't Californicate Colorado." Today it's "Coloradify California" on marijuana, she wrote.
The California Legislature is wrangling with a bill to create a state single-payer health care system. Colorado voters crushed the idea last year.
Just after Thanksgiving we learned the left coast's best fast-food joint, In-N-Out Burger, is planting its flag in Colorado Springs, with designs on taking over the state of our burgers.
It was also last month that the cannabis industry heralded the big news that researchers in California and Colorado were hooking up to crack the code on the genetics of hemp. That could potentially be very good for our state, which is moving ahead on making the non-intoxicating marijuana stalk more palatable for the marketplace.
State Sen. Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose, has invested in a hemp farm and processing facility to cash in. Don is about as much of a beach boy as Tennessee Ernie Ford.
Last year, state Sen. Laura Woods rolled out the California canard to warn Republican voters that tofu-eating barbarians were at their gates. A month later they voted her out.
A blog called "10 SoCal Stereotypes That Are Completely Accurate" on the real estate website Movoto says that "SoCal Bros Say Brah And Dude Like They Are Totally Going Outta Style." Been to Steamboat Springs, lately, brah? The list also says Californians freak out at the first sprinkles of rain. Check and mate, Colorado.
The Independence Institute in Denver, the venerable conservative think tank I once described as "the Ivy-league frat house of Colorado politics," had some fun with Colorado's Californians of the year.
And the outfit proved true to its libertarian beliefs and verified that it doesn't always take Republicans to be conservatives.
State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a rancher from Sterling is as rock-ribbed Republican as country as Cracker Barrel, was a finalist. He co-sponsored Senate Bill 267 to save rural hospitals and gin up money for rural roads. That might as well be a pinky-pointing hot-tea sipper from Sausalito to the puritans of the Colorado Constitution.
The bill moved a fee on hospital beds out from under the constitutional spending cap in the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. The cap triggers tax refunds. Monkeying with the cap, without voter approval, amounts to a hike in taxes, if payers don't get their full refund, according to think tank president Jon Caldara's way of thinking.
Sonnenberg was nominated for his "Hollywood-like ability to act like a conservative back home in his rural district, but then change into the role of a tax-and-spend Democrat in Denver," Caldara wrote.
He cut deeper in Sonnenberg's political hide: "Coloradans will now be paying over $550 million per year in new taxes, and carrying nearly $2 billion of new debt without even being shown the respect of asking first. Step aside, Harvey Weinstein."
With such a dim view to our west, we're cutting a great deal of Southern exposure, for which I'm grateful.
Woody Paige and I slipped in while no one was looking.