Gov. Jared Polis speaks June 25, 2021, in Denver.

The key to most magic tricks is misdirection. Do something flashy with one hand so folks don’t look at the other hand palming the coin.

Our governor is the greatest magician I have ever seen, and I worked as a stagehand for David Copperfield and Penn & Teller.

Magicians are liars. They say they’re sawing a woman in half, but really, they’re not.

Last week’s magic trick was classic Jared Polis. He decided to bravely take on the omni-powerful Environmental Protection Agency to free Colorado from the unfair shackles of their onerous ozone regulations, so the price of gas won’t explode another 30 cents-a-gallon.

Colorado is, yet again, out of compliance with EPA regulations on air quality. This really has less to do with our behavior and more to do with pollutants that get blown into our very high-elevation state.

It’s why previous governors, like Democrat John Hickenlooper, would sign a simple letter to the EPA asking for, and always easily receiving, a waiver. If they didn’t the EPA would require a very expensive gasoline blend be created just for us, thus the massive hike in gas prices.

But not only did magician Polis refuse to ask the EPA for a waiver, he rescinded Hickenlooper’s application for the waiver on the eve of it being granted.

In his March 2019 letter to the EPA Polis wrote, “we believe that the interests of our citizens are best served by moving aggressively forward and without delay in our efforts to reduce ground-level ozone concentrations...”

In other words, he told the EPA, “Bring it on boys! Force us to reformulate gasoline and gouge consumers. The environmental activists I can’t stand up to will be thrilled.”

Now the magician is misdirecting voters with his other hand, the one he wants you to watch.

Less than two months before his election he is now begging the EPA, even threatening to sue them, not to force us to reformulate gasoline. Of course, he knows full well it’s just smoke and mirrors and will do nothing.

That is, he knows the lady isn’t really going to be sawed in half.

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In his September 2022 plea to the EPA he wrote, “with potential ozone reclassification to severe nonattainment, I am deeply opposed to the associated requirement that reformulated gasoline (RFG) be deployed...”

So, he is deeply opposed to what he is SOLELY responsible for. What will his next illusion be?

Support or oppose the largest advance of governmental growth in Colorado history that Polis has created, we all should be repulsed and denounce the duplicitous games and lies Polis uses to tell voters he’s not doing what he is clearly doing.

Sadly, as Polis eyes the White House he has chosen to channel Bill Clinton, not Harry Truman.

A too slick Clinton wagged his finger and lied, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” If only he had told the truth history would honor him more today and voters likely would have forgiven him and celebrated his honesty at the time.

By contrast the sign on Truman’s desk said, “the buck stops here.” In other words, “I am responsible for my decisions and the actions of my administration.”

Imagine if Polis didn’t always try play to both sides and took full and proud responsibility for his actions.

What if he said, “It was my decision and my decision alone that will result in your gas prices going up 30 cents or more a gallon. And though difficult I believe it is crucial, and here’s why…”?

That would not only be brave honesty, but it would also be true leadership, the leadership for which voters are yearning.

Imagine if the letter Polis put in with your $750 TABOR refund check he wrote, “I am constitutionally required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Right to provide you this refund. Yes, I worked to end all TABOR refunds with Prop CC, but the voters disagreed with me. You should know this check would have been much larger had I not signed numerous bills to raise the state’s revenues with new fees without voter consent. But here’s why I thought those actions unquestionably necessary…”

Great illusionists like Nixon and Clinton have led the nation. But given the high stakes of our troubled times, is Polis the magician we want?

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute in Denver and hosts “The Devil’s Advocate with Jon Caldara” on Colorado Public Television Channel 12. His column appears Sundays in Colorado Politics.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute in Denver and hosts “The Devil’s Advocate with Jon Caldara” on Colorado Public Television Channel 12. His column appears Sundays in Colorado Politics.