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With Friends Like This ... Sometimes a fan of Richardson, Don Imus lashes governor with seven-minute rant

By Leslie Linthicum
Copyright 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
    If you're an underdog from the West running for president, there's nothing like seven minutes of free publicity on a national radio and TV show that reaches millions of people.
    Unless you're Bill Richardson from New Mexico and the show on Thursday was "Imus in the Morning."
    Host Don Imus is frequently obnoxious and offensive. But in an unusually cranky rant, he spent seven minutes ripping Richardson and his staff for being incompetent, inconsiderate and acting like spoiled babies.
    The Richardson camp laughed it off, putting out a statement that said Imus was "having some fun at our expense, and that's OK."
    Imus called the governor and Democratic presidential hopeful a "fat sissy," and a "fat baby" and told him in Spanish to "kiss my ..."
    He called one of Richardson's staffers a "sniveling little weenie" and "pipsqueak yuppie."
    "Imus in the Morning" airs in Albuquerque from 6 to 10 a.m. on 610 KNML-AM and on MSNBC. The show was produced in New York Thursday, but Imus and his wife, Deirdre, live in San Miguel County part of the year, where they run a cattle ranch that serves as a camp for sick children.
    Richardson has been a guest on the show, and Imus in the past has spoken about the governor and his staff in glowing terms.
    The issue that had Imus sputtering Thursday involved a proposal to renovate an old schoolhouse in the town of Ribera near the Imus ranch and turn it into a community center.
    Imus called the school "a treasure there in New Mexico, a landmark building." He said Gloria Gonzales of Ribera asked him for help last summer in raising funds for the renovation and he gave her $25,000.
    Deirdre Imus called Richardson about the project, according to Imus, and the governor said it sounded like a good idea and he'd "be happy to take a look at it."
    That was in the summer. Gonzales did not return telephone calls Thursday, but Imus said that over the last months Richardson staffers have not returned her calls and canceled meetings with her.
    Imus said he didn't care whether the state ponied up or not, but that Richardson's office owed Gonzales the courtesy of a prompt response.
    "They've been jerking Gloria's chain," he said. "They've been telling her just one jive story after another.
    "They either can help this woman or they can't— and either answer is fine," Imus said. "If they can't help her, we'll figure out a way to raise the money to renovate this school and to hell with the state. Just give us an answer."
    Imus started talking about the Ribera project and Gonzales' dealings with Richardson's office on broadcasts earlier this week.
    According to Imus, Richardson was going to appear on the show Thursday "and then because I wouldn't apologize to him, the fat sissy canceled and he's not going to be on now."
    On Richardson, he said, "If he wants to run for president he's got to get his act together, stop being a fat baby about all of this."
    Richardson's brief statement in response, from campaign communications director Pahl Shipley, said Richardson supports the Ribera school project "and has been working to secure the funds."
    "There are several important details that must be worked out, such as ownership of the property, before the state can appropriate any money," Shipley said.
    He pointed out that the Legislature would also have to approve funding.
    "Imus is eager and is using his position to advocate and is having some fun at our expense, and that's OK," Shipley said.
    Imus said Richardson "doesn't have a ready-for-prime-time staff."
    Imus was especially tough on Shipley, whom he called "some sniveling little weenie" and "a pipsqueak yuppie" who insulted him by asking Imus to return his call to talk about the issue.
    Imus also said an unnamed Richardson staffer had demanded an apology.
    "Here's my apology," he said. "Beso mi culo! How's that, gordo?"
    Then he challenged Richardson to get on the phone to apologize to him "and to Gloria Gonzales and the people of Ribera."
    "I expect Bill Richardson to stop siccing his incompetent, stupid staff on me and don't have these pipsqueaks call me and tell me they want me to call them— I mean, that's insulting," Imus said.
    Imus challenged Richardson to "get another staff, Bill, if you're going to run for president, because these folks are not ready to play. This is New York and this is a big stage. This is not Santa Fe, you know."
    Shipley said Thursday, "For me, as a longtime Imus fan, I'm flattered he thought me significant enough to mention."