1992 Bum Steers Awards
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Where is Alfred Hitchcock When You Need Him?
The Texas Department of Agriculture fined a crop duster in Wilbarger County $1,250 for spraying pesticide on a family of four in a pickup truck.
Drive Friendly—I’m Uninsured.
To avoid Texas insurance and safety standards, at least two thousand drivers from El Paso illegally purchased license plates in New Mexico.
He Was Waiting for Long Dong Silver
Three suspects were arrested in Weatherford for stealing a figure of Ronald McDonald from a McDonald’s restaurant. Police found Ronald in the suspects’ apartment, dressed in ladies lingerie.
Curb Your Livestock
The police in Dumas ticketed drivers of cattle trucks for violating the town’s waste ordinance after cow manure and urine repeatedly sloshed onto streets, cars, and pedestrians.
Wanted: A Nuclear Weapon as a Protest Against Hairdressers
Dallas hairdresser Jonathan Van Voorhees developed a mushroom-cloud-shaped hairstyle as a protest against the use of nuclear weapons.
Justice, Yes; Peace, No
Justices of the peace Milton Gallagher of Ennis and Robert Roberts of Italy reduced most traffic fines from $25 to $1 after the Ellis County Commissioner’s Court denied their requests for a salary increase.
Open That Safe Or I’ll Shoot
Christopher Else of Dallas tried to get help for his drug habit, but no treatment center would accept him as a patient because he didn’t have insurance. When an official at one center told him that he’d have better luck if there was a criminal case pending against him, Else decided to commit armed robbery and allow himself to be caught. At his trial, jurors agreed to send him to a drug-treatment center at Dallas county’s expense.
It Protects the Eyeballs
The National sports daily reported that the protective cup worn by Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan during his seventh no-hitter was sold at auction for $62,500. In fact, the item sold was Ryan’s cap, and the price was $6,250.
In Highland Park the Fine is $500
The Dallas Police Department gave members of the city’s homeless population $240 tickets for scavenging through trash bins in violation of the city ordinance against illegal trash collecting.
Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I Make a 64
The University of Texas at Austin music department offered a course in the history of rock music. Items studied included MTV, lip-synching, mind-altering chemicals, and the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
And Now, Here’s Our Newest Deputy, Pee-Wee Herman
Asked what he planned to do about a deputy who was charged with exposing himself to a child, Bexar County sheriff Harlon Copeland said, “What he does on his own time is up to him.”
Throw the Bum Out
James Fedigan of Houston was charged with disorderly conduct for mooning Galveston beach users while bungee jumping from a construction crane platform.
Here’s the Plan: First We Put Up a Giant Air Filter West of Muleshoe, Then We Pave Everything From Here to Levelland
After taking samples in Lubbock during spring windstorms, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that the city failed to meet clean-air standards and ordered it to reduce dust pollution.
Size A, Size DD, What’s the Difference?
Dr. Adolph Kauffmann III of Fort Worth was placed on five years’ probation by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners after insurance investigators discovered that he had been seeking reimbursement for breast biopsies when in fact he had performed breast augmentations.
Can’t a Dead Man Rest in Peace Around Here?
Believing that he was about to die, José Luis Hernández of Ciudad Juárez purchased a custom-fitted coffin, took it home, got in it, and refused to come out. Family members summoned the police, who were unable to open the coffin because Hernández had shut it from the inside.
Can’t a Dead Woman Rest in Peace Around Here?
Margaret Moffett of Dallas was on probation for three convictions and facing additional charges for writing a hot check when her obituary appeared in the Dallas Times-Herald. After court officials saw the obituary, Moffett’s convictions were set aside until sheriff’s deputies, investigating the absence of a death certificate, found her alive at home.
Let ‘Em Freeze In the Silence
A 6 mistakenly typed for a D in a computer program prepared by DSC Communications of Plano disrupted telephone service to five million people in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
But Management Gets to Play Free in the Pro-Am
One week before posting a $14 million third-quarter loss, while laying off four thousand employees, Shell Oil announced that it would spend $8 million to sponsor Houston’s annual pro golf tournament.
James Robert Vancourt III and Glenn Franklin Harvick were arrested for robbing and armored car near the Arlington Hypermart after the police identified them with the help of pictures snapped by a busload of Japanese tourists.
No We Ain’t
Punk rocker Tod Waters, the lead singer of Spunk, was arrested in Houston after dedicating a song about prison life and homosexual rape, titled “You Is,” to the Houston police.
It’s Like Not Having Rhythm
Former congresswoman Barbara Jordan told an Austin women’s conference, “I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which a man structurally does not have, because he cannot have it. He’s just incapable of it.”
Honk If You Loved Aunt Mary
Ray Williams of Lancaster announced plans for a drive-through funeral parlor at which motorists could view the deceased without leaving their cars.
Anyone Who Lets Women Fight in a War Might Let ‘Em Command the Corps
The executive committee of the faculty senate at Texas A&M opposed offering General Norman Shwarzkopf the chancellorship of the Texas A&M University System.
He’ll Fit In Perfectly
Houston city councilman Ben Reyes, facing charges of felony theft and election-code violations, agreed to a plea bargain in which he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor violations and promptly announced that he was considering a race for Congress.
The First Coup Was Just a Warning
Aeroflot Soviet Airlines failed for months to pay $7,000 refueling bill to Tesoro Petroleum of San Antonio, saying that the Kremlin had to authorize payment of the bill. With the Kremlin running an estimated $8 billion in arrears in paying current bills, Tesoro turned the account over to Abbott, Abrey, and Beck, a San Antonio collection agency, which bombarded Aeroflot and the Kremlin with phone calls and telegrams until Aeroflot paid the bill in full.
$3,000 Clear Profit And $7,000 to Abbott, Abrey, and Beck
Robert Ballew of Fort Worth paid $10,000 for a twelve-minute ride on a visiting Soviet MiG-29 jet fighter.
Take a Hike for Steve
Following the cocaine-related death of Houston state representative Larry Evans, Steve Sherman of Houston urged elected officials to undergo drug tests in a memorial campaign with the motto “Take a Leak for Larry.”
“We’ve Got an Open Line, But Not for Long”
Dan Patrick, the general manager of Houston radio station KSEV, conducted his regular morning talk show while undergoing a vasectomy.
First the Women Had to Form a Support Group
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department was forced to issue undergarments to female inmates in the county jail after the women protested that the jail did not provide any and that they were not allowed to keep their own underwear if it was too frilly or too skimpy or contained wire.
It May Not Work in St. Louis, but They’ll Love You in Phoenix
President George Bush, speaking in Kansas City, said, “We could all take a lesson from the Kansas City Chiefs about competitiveness. They’re having a great season. Of course, later this afternoon I’ll be in St. Louis saying the same thing about the Cardinals.”
The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi proposed that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice reduce recidivism at state prisons by hiring him to teach transcendental meditation at the cost of $1,500 per inmate.
Inspiring the Film Classic, Pyongyang, Mon Amour
The Texas Education Agency failed to detect 230 factual errors in high school history textbooks it recommended for adoption. The errors included such mistakes as saying that the Soviet Union’s Sputnik satellite was actually a nuclear missile, the George Bush was elected president in 1989 instead of 1988, and that President Truman dropped the atomic bomb on Korea, not Japan.
After Bee County commissioner Victor Salazar criticized county judge Bob Walk for deciding to release a prisoner without any judicial proceeding, Walk called Salazar a poor old bastard. When Salazar demanded an apology, Walk said, “I apologize to your mother. She is a very sweet lady, and I think she is a very nice lady.” Salazar responded, “Judge, my mom has been dead for about eight years.”
Maybe It’s Time to Change Parties
Psychiatrist Diane Mosbacher, a daughter of Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher of Houston, told an audience at Pitzer College, “Dad and I had breakfast this morning. We had a look at each other’s speeches. He would have used mine, but he’s not a lesbian. I would have used his, but I’m not a Republican.”
“Tex” Sounds So Much Better Than “Braz”
The Washington National Zoo loaned an armadillo named Tex to be displayed at the Kennedy Center’s Texas Festival celebrating the state’s cultural heritage. But the zoo’s armadillo did not resemble the Texas version; I had three fewer bands, belonged to a South American species, and came from Brazil.
The Few Fish That Survived Grow So Much Bigger Now Because There Are No Birds Left To Eat Them
Speaking at a press briefing during Houston’s Offshore Technology Conference, Otto Harrison, the manager of Alaskan operations for Exxon, said of the economic effect of the 1989 Prince William Sound oil spill, “The state of Alaska has been impacted, but it’s all been good.”
Okay, What’s Par?
During the Miss Texas USA pageant, Jennifer Rekart of San Antonio, who had listed one of her hobbies as golf, was asked what her handicap was. After a short pause, she replied, “The shopping mall.”
To study students’ reactions to tragedy, school officials at Charles M. Blalack junior high in Carrollton carried out a student project in which an assistant principal announced over the school’s public address system: “A historic event has taken place. The president of the United States has been assassinated.”
He Couldn’t Relax and Enjoy It
Clayton Williams rejected overtures from a group of prominent Republicans on the board of RIMPAC—Republicans in Majority Political Action Committee—to run for chairman of the state Republican party.
Not Tonight, Dear. I have a Sideache
Visiting a friend’s ranch in Wyoming, Senator Lloyd Bentsen picked up his wife, B.A., and slung her over his shoulder to carry her off to bed, breaking one of her ribs.
They Were All Charged With Breaking the Second Law of Thermodynamics
Two physics students at Phillip’s College in San Antonio were hospitalized after a third student stabbed them during a fight over when radiant energy becomes heat.
On Reflection, It’s Impossible to Be Detrimental to The Industry
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rescinded its ban on Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager, although regulators had described its label—a fog-shrouded swamp with a skeleton hanging in it—as “detrimental to the industry.”
It Had Richard Nixon’s Picture on It
A convenience store clerk in Abilene accepted a counterfeit $100 bill that was a foot long and five inches wide.
And He Orders Quiche For the Training Table
University of Houston Cougars wide receiver Torrin Polk, praising football coach John Jenkins, said, “He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings.”
This is a Raid, But Don’t Stop. Don’t Stop. Don’t Stop
Buscho, the owner of three massage parlors in Austin, billed the city $2,800 for 27 nude massages given to male police officers before they made arrests.
Our Favorite is the Fajitaburger
To encourage Americans to use more tortillas, Irwin Steinberg, the executive director of the Tortilla Industry Association, told an audience at a San Antonio trade fair that quesadillas should be called cheese sandwiches.
Except When It’s a Cheese Sandwich
Southwest Dining Services of Dallas lost the cafeteria concession at Bexar County Courthouse and Justice Center when company vice president Ed Jenkins responded to complaints by count commissioners that his tortillas weren’t homemade by saying, “A tortilla is a tortilla.”
Once Upon a Time I Was Feelin’ Fine/If You Wanna Hear Me Groan/Yo! Call Me on The Phone
Callers to the Carver Library Dial-A-Story line for children in Austin were greeted with a rap song with graphic sexual lyrics.
That’s Why Our VCR Got Stolen Too
Dallas philanthropist and art benefactor Wendy Reeves reported that thieves stole her jewelry collection, valued at $25 million, from her villa on the French Riviera. She blamed the theft on the Dallas Museum of Art’s refusal to put the jewels on display.
There’s a Cosmonaut Born Every Minute
Space Travel Services of Houston was enjoined from operating a sweepstakes contest that competitors entered by paying $2.99 to call a 900 number for a chance to take a trip aboard a Soviet rocket and spend a week on the space station Mir
Never Mind the Explanation. We Want to Know Is, How Do You Get to Be an Expert?
The Houston City Council, trying to draft an ordinance to outlaw bare female breasts, hired a researcher to detail why women’s breasts are different from men’s breasts.
Thou Shalt Not Stink
Baylor University dropped charges against freshman Kyle Krebs for violating the school’s odor ordinance by passing gas.
The Other 6 Percent Guessed Real Good
The Texas Education Agency reported that 94 percent of the teachers who took a special state examination in order to be declared a master teacher flunked the test.
Sounds Like the Curse Is Working
To publicize a $1 million gift to the Smithsonian Institution, Georgette Mosbacher of Houston appeared at a news conference wearing the Hope Diamond, which is normally on display at the museum. Asked about the curse of an Indian god that is supposed to ensure that anyone who wears the diamond will endure tragedy, Mosbacher said, “I’d wear it in my navel for a million bucks.”
All Dachshund Cats Grow Old. Deerhound, We Are Overcome With Griffon This Sad Day. After All These Years of Cairn Feeding, We Saluki You. May This Not Be Your Lhasa Resting Place Under the Skye; Please Get Apso We Can Shepherd You to Your New Home. A Great Dan Has Dawned and a Newfoundland Waits for You. But Before We Say Chow, Here’s a Pointer About Vets: Remember, They Only Kill Their Mastiffs.
The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine asked the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for permission to spend $500,000 in private-gift funds for a rest home for aging, faithful pets.
Operation Dallas Storm
During a U.S. Senate investigation of insurance fraud, Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia attempted to subpoena the records of the Sovereign Cherokee Nation Tejas that involved offshore reinsurance transactions. William Fry and Gary Derer, going by the names of Chief Bear Who Walks Softly and Chief Justice Screaming Eagle, notified President Bush that the attempt to serve a subpoena at the tribes North Dallas headquarters was “tantamount to an invasion by your government of our nation.”
No! No! That’s Not the SAE Shake
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house at the University of Houston was closed after a fraternity member became involved in a late-night altercation with a female student and bit her finger off.
But the Aroma of Roasted Chevy Added to the Flavor
A grass fire burned out of control and damaged more than one hundred cars during a menudo cookoff sponsored by the San Antonio Firefighters Association.
The Mother of All Swindles
Secret Service Agents arrested Lewis Driver of Lamesa and Tommy Lee Buckley of Childress for attempting to withdraw $33 billion from the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas with a note drawn on the bank in the name of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
It’ll Make a Great Commercial
After an armed robber at an Amarillo convenience store took $43, he got a beer from the cooler, drank it, then gave the money back and asked the manager to call police.
Black journalist and radio talk show host Bob Ray Sanders of Dallas endorsed ex-Klansman David Duke in the Louisiana governor’s race by saying, “Give me somebody I know I don’t liker rather than a hypocrite who says he’s for me when he’s really not.”
The Movie Was Better
An angry patron left Conner’s Place, a topless nightclub in San Antonio, following an argument with the cashier, and returned wielding a chain saw. Before being subdued by patrons, he sliced through a wooden partition and tried to cut up an eight-foot long table.
All Those Cavities For Nothing
Three inmates in the Hays County jail pleaded guilty to attempting to escape after they were discovered to have made a ladder by braiding hundreds of yards of hoarded dental floss.
Quit Bragging About Your Qualifications And Tell Us Your Position on Crime
Austin mayoral candidate John Johnson called a press conference to reveal that his real name was John Patrick Tully and that he had been a henchman for the Mafia before entering the Federal Witness Protection Program.
The Lawyers Won The Prize
Venus Arias of Houston sued Fiesta Mart for $612,000 after she was struck by two falling piñatas.
Next Time Drive A Mercedes
After Governor Ann Richards criticized college students who oppose tuition increases while driving around in BMWs, UT-Austin student body president Garth Davis organized a Capitol rally to oppose a tuition increase. He drives a BMW.
Perhaps You Would Prefer a Simple Cremation Ceremony
Fifteen minutes before a wake for Tom Butler was to begin at Earl Pruitt’s funeral home in Houston, Butler’s wife, Harriet, discovered that the wrong body was in the casket. The wake was canceled when Pruitt told the family that Butler’s body had already been buried. Pruitt promised to exhume it and bring it to the funeral home chapel the next day. But when the casket was delivered and the family insisted on opening it, another wrong corpse was inside.
You Mean, Roger Thompson Will Go Out of Business Before Dallas Lowers Its Hair
Prominent New York hairstylist Roger Thompson opened a salon in North Dallas and announced that it would not cater to the locally popular style of bleached, lacquered, and teased big hair. Said Thompson’s daughter, Sara, who was running the Dallas salon, “The Dallas ‘do will go out of style before we lower our standards.”
Willie Nelson appeared on ABC’s Prime Time Live to promote his new album, The IRS Tapes, in order to help pay off his $17 million debt in back taxes. The telephone number to call to order the album, displayed on his T-shirt as 1-800-IRS-TAPE, was incorrect.
Big Deal. The Garden of Eden Suffered From Population Explosion Too
In a ranking of environmental livability that considered the rate of population change, Zero Population Growth rated El Paso as the worst place to live in the country.
May 20, 1991—A Day Which Will Live in Infamy
Jesus Diaz of Brownsville became the first Texan to be attacked by killer bees.
She Had All the Right Parts
Krisann Whitley of Levelland, a graduate of Southern Methodist University, was chosen Ms. Harley-Davidson by popular vote of the 375,000 people who attended a Harley-Davidson rally in Daytona.
The Same as Your I. Q.
Lena Guerrero, the first woman ever to serve on the Texas Railroad Commission, spoke for the first time in front of the truckers regulated by the commission and ended her remarks by asking if anyone had any questions. A member of the audience asked, “What’s you bra size?”
They Practice Safe Theft
Thieves broke into a car owned by a nineteen-year-old Harker Heights woman and stole a fourteen-karat gold ladies’ Rolex watch with a diamond face, worth $5,000, and a box of Magic Evening condoms, worth 50 cents.
The Little Creamery in Osaka
After negotiations between Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham and Ezaki Gilco, a Japanese food company, failed to result in a join-operating agreement to enter the Japanese market, Ezaki Gilco registered the Blue Bell trademark in Japan and claimed exclusive right to it.
Read My Lips. No New Anything
The Ron Paul Republican for President Exploratory Committee sent out a fundraising letter on behalf of Paul, a former Republican congressman from Lake Jackson, asking for contributions so that Paul could enter the New Hampshire Republican primary against George Bush. The committee attacked Bush for, among other things, “multiplying the number of welfare bums,” “making the Federal Register look like the Encyclopedia Bushanica,” and “teaching condoms to third-graders.”
Wash Our Sins Away
Visitors flocked to Reynaldo Trevino’s auto supply store in Progreso after he discovered an image of the Virgin Mary in the back of his store on the cement floor of a shower stall.
George III Was Rather Dreadful, and Then There Was Uncle Edward And That Bloody American Woman
Visiting the White House, Queen Elizabeth II of England asked George W. Bush, a son of President and Mrs. Bush, if he was the black sheep of the family. “I guess so,” he said. “All families have them,” said the queen. Replied Bush, “Who’s yours?”
Here’s a Plug For Brussels Sprouts
A Houston Lighting and Power Company employee was fired after a pornographic video tape was discovered in the office. It showed male workers attending a stag party that featured two nude dancers who are known as the Salad Sisters for their creative use of fruits and vegetables.