Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offered an awkward apology and some colorful language to some of his fiercest rivals on the issue of gun control: Colorado's sheriffs.
The governor's mea culpa came Friday when he spoke before an assembled group of sheriffs from around Colorado.
The governor apologized to the sheriffs for not meeting with them prior to the passage of gun control bills they opposed. Hickenlooper also said his administration didn't do a good job anticipating pushback on gun control, and he pledged better communication in the future.
Pressed on the issue by Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, Hickenlooper reacted with exasperation.
"What the f—?" Hickenlooper said. "I apologized!"
On his Facebook page, Smith said he was taken aback by such language in that setting.
"I'm a big boy and I won't pretend for a moment that it's not language that's foreign to me — but I found that type of attitude and response to be well below the dignity of the office of governor," Smith wrote. "This was a sitting governor, in a public meeting, responding to another elected official."
Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown said the governor intended the profanity to be taken in jest.
"He meant no disrespect to Sheriff Smith or anyone else in the room," Brown said.
Some Colorado sheriffs are suing to overturn the gun control laws Hickenlooper signed last year, saying they violate the Constitution.