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If it were fiction, you wouldn't believe it.

Sadly, what happened in Colorado on Tuesday is true and unbelievable.

At the conclusion of a three-day, three-state campaign trip to promote candidates who will bring needed new leadership to Washington, I flew to Ft. Collins, Colorado to attend the only "debate" between Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave and her courageous and forceful challenger Angie Paccione in the Colorado 4th district.

What happened there made the clearest case I could ever imagine for why change isn't just needed - it's required.

That was Tuesday.

But before we even got to Colorado, I had a great meeting with Joe Sestak who's running an incredible campaign against Republican Curt Weldon in suburban Philadelphia. My PAC gave Sestak's campaign a $1,000 check to assist his efforts in restoring some sanity to Congress.

And I was impressed with Joe's candor, compassion and decency and I have no reservations in saying he'll be a great Congressman - they kind who will have the courage to stand up for our rights and the wisdom to know the difference between national policy and divisive politics.

Back to Tuesday in Colorado...a little background, first. Back in mid-July I travelled to Colorado and delivered a letter to Congresswoman Musgrave's office. asking her why she felt compelled to interfere in my family's personal affairs - questioning, in fact trying to refute the medical facts of my wife's case on the floor of Congress.

Not surprisingly, Marilyn Musgrave never responded to my letter.

So on Tuesday I joined about 1,000 citizens and members of the local and regional media in the Windsor High School Auditorium to hear the debate and try to get an answer to my question from Congresswoman Musgrave.

About twenty minutes before the debate started and after speaking to several reporters about how Musgrave had voted to transform her values into our laws, I took a seat in the front row. As it turned out, I was seated next to the timekeeper who held up yellow and red cards to signal time to the candidates.

But just minutes after taking my seat, I noticed a flurry of activity around my seat including about four uniformed police officers who were - I would learn later - called in by Musgrave staffers and asked to remove me from the building.

At this point, I had made no speeches, I had no signs, had made no attempt to disrupt or cause any commotion. I only came into the auditorium, spoke to a dozen or so reporters and took a seat.

To their credit, the police refused the Musgrave campaign's appeal to have me removed.

There's more to come, but I still can't get over even that part. A sitting member of Congress asked the police to remove me - a taxpaying citizen - from a public debate. Obviously, I misunderstand the concept of a political debate. I thought a debate was a place to share ideas, answer questions, defend your record and tell citizens what you've done and what you will do. Marilyn Musgrave believes, I have to gather, that debates are places to have the police remove people who don't agree with you.

After the police talked with obviously irritated Musgrave staffers and the debate organizer, the Musgrave campaign complained that my seat, next to the timekeeper, was inappropriate because - get this - Marilyn Musgrave would have to look at me. In an effort to appease the Musgrave camp, the debate organizers moved the timekeeper to the other side of the stage - about 15 seats away.

If you need to re-read that again, it's okay. A member of Congress who took to the floor of our Congress to speak about my wife, my family and my values made the debate timekeeper move so she wouldn't have to look at me. Just amazing.

The "debate" went on for an hour and at two points the audience actually broke out into laughter at Musgrave. Once, in response to a question about health care when she said America had the best health care in the world and again when she said the 700 mile immigration fence Congress approved would stop immigrants and protect "our children from drug dealers."

I admit I'm new to politics, but it just can't be a good sign when a home-town crowd is laughing at their Congresswoman. But given who their member of Congress is, I understand it.

As if the evening weren't already strange enough, as the clock wound down on the debate I noticed about half a dozen Musgrave staffers and supporters gathering near the stairs to the stage. They were whispering and forming a line. It stuck me as odd but I soon discovered why they were there.

As soon as the moderator wrapped-up the evening, they rushed in front of me forming a human shield for Congresswoman Musgrave - trying to keep me from speaking to her.

I called out,  "Marilyn, why won't you answer my question?" and "It's just one question." But, like before, she ignored me. And as I approached the stage with other debate watchers, Musgrave staffers surrounded me trying their best to shout over me silly things like, "We love you Marilyn" and "Way to Go! Marilyn!"

It was really lame.

And, no kidding, within seconds of the debate ending, three or four other Musgrave staffers ran on stage, took the Congresswoman by the arms and whisked her through a side door and into a waiting car. She not only avoided my question, she didn't take a single comment from a single voter or shake a single hand.

I will give her credit, though, Marilyn Musgrave may have been the first member of Congress with the courage to actually demonstrate for all of us what "cut and run" really looks like. Marilyn Musgrave's display was the sorriest excuse for Democracy I'm likely ever to see.

Angie Paccione, by contrast, acted like a Congresswoman and stayed on stage and in the room for nearly an hour after the debate talking to people and shaking hands.

But underneath it all I'm left with something I can't get past. Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, as I said, had no problem at all in speaking about me and my family on the floor of Congress. Yet she can't bring herself to even look at me. She has to seek help from the police to have me removed from a public debate.

It's crystal clear that Marilyn Musgrave not only can't admit she's wrong, she can't even face the consequences of her own actions. She must believe that if she runs away fast enough or surrounds herself with enough people who tell her she's great, it never happened.

Well, Marilyn, it did happen. You were wrong. And that you don't have the decency to admit it or even face me - even to disagree with me - is more than cowardice. It's un-American and disgusting.

Even though you'd rather not see it or hear it, Congresswoman Musgrave, your votes have consequences. What you do impacts real people. And a wall of staffers, police and debate complaints won't hide the truth.

After seeing Marilyn Musgrave in action, I hope more than ever before that voters in Colorado are wise enough to make a change. I just can't think of any better reason to dump her from Congress than her refusal to even see the people she hurts. I just don't know how you can get any worse than that.

Angie Paccione needs your help.

There's more at stake here than just a seat in Congress.

And there are real parallels between Mariyn's outrageous behavior on Tuesday and the course our country is on. Like Marilyn Musgrave, too many of our "leaders" in Washington just refuse to see what's happening in Iraq, they refuse to see  the members of Congress in hand-cuffs, they refuse to see people still living in the tragedy of Katrina, they refuse to see our un-insured and homeless.

Like Musgrave, they'd rather run away than face any American who sees what's really going on.

Please, please, please help Angie Paccione.

America needs this Congress to be swept away and take Marilyn Musgrave with it.

UPDATE: Yesterday, I was a guest on the Ed Schultz radio show to talk about the Colorado debate debacle. They have audio of my interview up on their website, here.

Originally posted to Michael Schiavo on Thu Oct 26, 2006 at 08:05 PM PDT.

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