John Hickenlooper has deployed a bold and completely laughable defense against the state Ethics Commission report that clearly shows he crossed the lines in accepting banned gifts when he served as governor.

Hickenlooper can’t deny he accepted the gifts, which came in the form of paid travel.

Hickenlooper can’t cover the fact that neither he nor the state reimbursed those travel costs. 

His only defense is to claim he had no knowledge, no idea any of those people would have business with the state. 

And besides, those people were his friends.

That’s key, because it’s not unethical for the governor to accept gifts from friends.

But is it ethical to accept gifts from friends who have business before the state or might want something in return? In polite circles, we believe that’s referred to as quid pro quo. 

Hick can quibble the rules aren’t clear, but people with actual morals don’t always need the government to tell them what is right and wrong. 

Hick should know it looks bad for the governor to accept private jet rides from anyone, and should have been flying commercial coach like the rest of us mere mortals.

If it appears improper, it is improper — that’s the test Hickenlooper, and you failed.

And now for that laugh we promised.

Hickenlooper told Next with Kyle Clark it was the media’s job in the first place to make sure no one ever questions his ethics:

“You guys should be protecting me on stuff like this …”

Watch it and weep, with laughter.