The 2003 Bum Steer Awards
It was a year of asinine atheists, buck-naked bad guys, crud-coated coins, duct-taped duds, ex-Enron exhibitionists, felonious Ferraris, gaffe-prone guests, hijacked heads, icky incumbents, jittery java junkies, kaput kampaigns, lascivious lawyers, Munsters maniacs, ninny newlyweds, obdurate officials, pesky perfumes, quickie-minded quadrupeds, risible reading, superannuated sodas, titillating textbooks, un-dry urbanites, vamoosed vaudevillians, wandering weapons, Xena-like Xanthippes, yammering Yankees, and zealous zit-ologists.
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The Bull Just Smiled and Declined to Press Charges
Joey Allen Long, of Paris, was charged in Mount Pleasant with the theft of $4,600 worth of bull semen.
We Can Only Imagine What the Words “Bob Torricelli” Did to Him
Thomas Ray Mitchell, of Texas City, was convicted of aggravated assault for shooting his girlfriend because, he told the police, he thought she was about to say two words that upset him: “New Jersey.”
Your Money or Your Ranch-Style Recipe
Irma Ortiz and Irene Hinojosa were arrested for aggravated robbery because they entered the La Feria home of Ortiz’s ex-boyfriend, held him down on the floor, and before taking his money, hit him over the head with a can of beans.
Man Cannot Live By Peanuts Alone
After Southwest Airlines announced that it would charge obese customers for two seats, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals put up billboards showing a photo of a man’s big hairy belly hanging over his jeans along with the caption “Don’t pay for two seats. Go vegetarian.”
We’d Like To Initiate A Dialogue And Share Our Feelings About This: You Suck
An article on the Web site of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in Pennsylvania, discussing the February issue of Oprah Winfrey’s magazine O, said of the periodical, “Jammed with self-esteem exercises, it is so over-the-top touchy-feely, it’s probably against the law in states like Texas.”
Read My Dips: No New Tostadas
State representative Kino Flores, of Mission, has filed a resolution to make chips and salsa the official snack of Texas.
Soon to Be Known As the Fightin’ Racs
Residents of Frisco, both black and white, protested the changing of the high school’s team name from the Fightin’ Coons to the Fightin’ Raccoons.
Call Again in Five To Ten Years
Humberto Perez participated in a San Antonio radio station’s call-in program titled “What Is Your Biggest Lie?” and detailed a scheme to arrange for a friend to steal his pickup truck so that he could collect payments from his insurance company and car-alarm manufacturer–only to be arrested for mail fraud by an FBI agent who had tuned in to the show, suspected that the story was true, and tracked down the caller’s identity.
Now Is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid Of the Other Party
McLennan County court-at-law judge David Hodges, of Waco, was barred by the Texas Supreme Court from seeking reelection as the Democratic party nominee because he had voted in the Republican primary.
Aggies Lose By 4; Critics Blame R. C. Slocum
After complaints that as many as eight Texas A&M students were sharing the same house, the Bryan City Council voted to limit the number of unrelated people in one house to four.
What’s The Problem? It Is Unusual
Anita Perry, the wife of Governor Rick Perry, applied for a hardship driver’s license for her daughter, Sydney, age fifteen, and checked a box indicating that, despite Perry’s $115,345 annual salary, she was making the request because of “unusual economic hardship.”
Where’s Joseph McCarthy When You Really Need Him?
Dana Cloud, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote the school’s paper, The Daily Texan, to laud a California court’s decision permitting the deletion of the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. She then proposed, for “godless radicals” such as herself, a new pledge that promises allegiance to “ordinary people,” including “the laid-off Enron workers,” “the sweatshop workers from New York to Indonesia, who labor not under God but under the heel of multinational corporations,” and “the people of Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan.”
So Far, He’s Covered Most of North Dallas
John Winter Smith, of Dallas, has been a customer at 3,344 Starbucks stores in his quest to visit every outlet of the upscale Seattle-based coffee chain.
You Call It an Oversight. We Call It Effective Counsel
According to news reports, Nate Newton, a former offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys who was convicted of federal drug charges, asked for a new detention hearing while still in jail in Dallas because, his lawyer said, the athlete’s former attorney failed him by not calling Jerry Jones as a character witness.
But His Political Career Is Shot
Kenn George, of Dallas, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for land commissioner, removed a picture of a Purple Heart from his political Web site after news reports revealed that he had never been wounded and had never been in combat.
The State Department Has Issued a Travel Advisory for Lufkin
In a poll conducted by The Daily Sentinel, of Nacogdoches, in October, 87 percent of the respondents said they believed there were Al Qaeda cells operating in East Texas.
They’re Practicing For the Attack on East Texas
An unidentified pilot from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, flying an F-117A Stealth fighter plane, accidentally dropped dummy bombs into the bathroom of a Monahans home and the front yard of a house in Pecos.
But Their Turnout Is Surprisingly Good
The Hidalgo County Republican party commissioned a study of the county’s registered voters, which showed that some 16,000 of them were ineligible or dead.
She’s Never Sounded Better
Britney Spears had to end her concert in Lubbock after only two songs because the amount of electricity needed for the onstage pyrotechnics overwhelmed the power system and shorted it out.
Bad Call. He Would Have Let You Get On Down the Road
Stenson Hutcherson, of Austin, who appeared in court to challenge a speeding ticket, asked his lawyer to eliminate from the jury pool juror number one, who happened to be Governor Rick Perry.
Good Thing They Weren’t Watching The Vagina Monologues
Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur canceled a performance of a play called Stop the Violence after high school students began fighting with each other during the show.
That’s Contempt Of Courting
District court judge James Keeshan, of Conroe, was fined for disorderly conduct and publicly admonished by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct following a confrontation at Joyce’s 30-Something Lounge, in which he caused a man to fall off a bar-stool onto the floor. The incident occurred after the judge’s female companion told him that a few days earlier the man had embarrassed her at the same bar by calling her a “porno queen.”
Unlike College Station, the Jewel Of the Brazos
Referring to an incident following last year’s 120 win by Texas Tech over Texas A&M in football, in which Tech fans tore down the goalposts and shoved them into a group of Aggie fans, the Aggies’ media guide for the 2002 season referred to Tech fans as “classless clowns” and “uglier than the barren stretch [of] dirt some West Texans call a city.”
$70 Million For This?
John Robert Wright, a staffer for Tony Sanchez’s gubernatorial campaign, was fired after three weeks on the job because he posted, on a Dallas-area Web site for actors, a casting call for “a mix of people, with emphasis on Caucasians” who were “willing to say something like ‘I am sick of Perry’s negative attacks.'”
But He Thinks It Was Something Mendez
Hermilo Mendez, of San Antonio, notified the Bexar County clerk in March that he wanted to file for divorce from the woman who had left him ten years ago after they had been married for only a few days, but he could not remember her name.
Chapter One: How to Cut Interest
Upon discovering that the front cover of a high school economics textbook featured a picture of nude male sculptures at the New York Stock Exchange, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, an Austin-based publisher, manipulated the photo to add loincloths to the statues.
Peace, Peace, Peace, Peace, Eatin’ Goober Peace . . .
A boxcar full of laser-guided weapons heading from North Carolina to an Army munitions storage site in Oklahoma went astray and ended up at a peanut-processing plant in the tiny Comanche County town of Comyn.
We’ll Bet $50 on Clayton and Hell
Clayton Frank Stoker was charged with first-degree murder for shooting a fellow barhopper in the hamlet of Godley during a heated argument about which of them was going to heaven and which to hell.
And She’s Got a Great Pair of Zits
Elizabeth Ann Loudon, a dermatologist in San Antonio, married attorney Gerard Calderon and used her wedding announcement in the San Antonio Express-News as an ad by titling it “‘TheSkinMD’ Weds.”
Korea Is Better
Enrique Jose Cintron, an Army specialist, and his wife, Bethany Weigl, were placed on probation and fined $4,000 after he persuaded her to shoot him in the leg with a .38-caliber handgun and pretend that they had been assaulted so he would not have to return to active duty in Korea and instead could remain with her in College Station.
I Desire to Testify on The Grounds That It Might Tend to Incriminate Me
Louis Papakostas, of Corpus Christi, who was convicted of drug charges in 1987 but had been on the lam ever since, was apprehended by police officers after he ran into the county attorney who had prosecuted him at a local restaurant and stopped to say hello, even reminding the attorney who he was when the man did not remember.
“It Was a Cold, Drizzly Morning In November as Sherman Threw His Gear, Guns, Wife, Children, Dogs, and Barbecue Grill Into The Back of His Suburban Silverado 1500 With Custom Pinstriping. He Checked the Gas Gauge, as Weekend Survivalists Know to Do, Pulled Onto the Freeway, Caromed off A Camaro, and Headed For the Deer Lease”
In October Leonard Wendland, of Dallas, began publishing Lucky Trucker, a magazine devoted to the lifestyle of owners of sport-utility vehicles.
It Was an Open and Shut-eye Case
After presiding over a trial in which a Dallas man accused of murder was sentenced to twenty years in prison, visiting judge John Bradshaw saw the verdict overturned by an appeals court when evidence showed that he had fallen asleep during testimony.
That Explains Why Both Sidekicks Fans Were Confused
The Dallas Sidekicks, a professional indoor soccer team, filed suit against the Dallas Desperados, a member of the Arena Football League, for infringing on their trademark.
A Royal Pain
U.S. representative Sheila Jackson Lee was criticized by Houston Chronicle columnist Shelby Hodge because the congresswoman, after being invited to an elaborate banquet in Houston hosted by royal visitor Queen Sirikit of Thailand, showed up an hour late to the black-tie event, leaving an empty seat at the queen’s table that had to be filled; wore business attire rather than the long evening dress specified in the invitation; caused the wife of Thailand’s lord chamberlain to give up her seat so that Lee would have a place to eat; and approached the queen during dinner (which is prohibited by protocol) to ask her to stand up and pose for a photograph.
Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Smallpox Is Sweet, And So Are You
Austin Community College evacuated some two hundred students from one of its campuses on Valentine’s Day because of the discovery in an elevator of a “hazardous substance” in a vial with “strange markings,” which turned out to be a bottle of perfume.
Number One on The List Is Electing Phil to Congress
The Washington Post reported that Senator Phil Gramm, who began his political career as a Democrat, was overheard entertaining visitors by claiming, “Where I’m from, we hunt down Democrats with dogs for the bad things they do.”
Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck! / Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck! / Good-bye to Baylor University / Good-bye To the Green and the Go-o-old / So Long To the Good Ol’ Texas Aggies / They’re Just Too Far to the Left
We’re Told Congressman Tom DeLay, of Sugarland, who attended Baylor and whose daughter graduated from Texas A&M, said during an appearance at Pearland’s First Baptist Church that if parents were interested in having their children taught religious doctrines like creationism, “Don’t send your kids to Baylor. And don’t send your kids to Texas A&M,” because the schools had lost their conservatism.
Don’t Let Tom DeLay Find Out About This
Baylor University suspended the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity because Playboy magazine, in its October issue focusing on the Big Twelve Conference, ran a photo of some of the fraternity’s members on a sand-volleyball court.
You’ll Never Watch Another Calf Scramble In This Town Again
After Reliant Resources bought the naming rights to the Astrodome, officials of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is always held in the ‘Dome, announced they would revoke media credentials of journalists who referred to the stadium by its original name instead of “the Reliant Astrodome.”
Everybody Was Looking for O-Brahma bin Laden
The U.S. Army was unaware for six weeks that Wayne Owen Stubblefield, a Coryell County resident sought for felony assault and listed as one of Texas’ ten most wanted criminals, was hiding out on the grounds of Fort Hood. Despite increased security following the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Coryell County sheriff said, Stubblefield entered the post by driving across a cattle guard.
“I Have a Nightmare”
Merit Industries, of Georgetown, which was hired to produce a plaque to honor black actor James Earl Jones at a Florida celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, birthday, accidentally emblazoned the plaque with “James Earl Ray,” the name of the man who was convicted of assassinating King in 1968.
Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Yez! Yez! Yez!
Charges are pending against defense attorney Richard Douglas Parker, of Houston, who was arrested for public lewdness in Bryan during a court recess after a jail officer checked the attorney’s waiting room and discovered Parker and his female client engaged in a sex act.
If You’ve Seen One Democrat Who Has Been Investigated by The Feds and Who Cravenly Supports Republicans, You’ve Seen Them All
In its national weekly edition, the Washington Post ran an article about Hispanic candidates for state office in Texas and, over a caption naming Tony Sanchez as the Democratic candidate for governor, ran a picture of Sanchez’s defeated Democratic primary opponent, Dan Morales.
Land of Disenchantment
The Albuquerque Journal reported that Mayor Martin Chavez, of Albuquerque, while discussing the possibility of the University of Texas’ taking over the management of the city’s highly regarded Sandia National Laboratories, told UT officials, “We don’t want Texas running New Mexico. We want them to spend money here, and then we want them to go home.”
Melts Your Mind, Not in Your Hand
Abilene Christian University, whose colors are purple and white, launched an intensive six-week drive to persuade students, alumni, faculty, and staff to vote for the new color of M&M’s to be purple.
“I Now Pronounce You Man and Wife. You May Kiss the Beard”
ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons sent off for a mail-order minister’s certificate so that he could officiate at the marriage of his friends Jim Suhler and Lauri Bradshaw, both of Dallas.
You Mean It’s Not?
Karla Waples, of New Braunfels, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, asked her state representative to sponsor a bill making the eating of roadkill legal.
Let Them Drink Coke
Dozens of employees of a Coca-Cola bottling company in Dallas claimed that the soft-drink distributor had, for years, repacked cans with expired sell-by dates into brand-new cardboard cases and sold them to minority communities across North Texas.
Don’t Tell That to Willie. Or Ann. Or Hakeem. Or Emmitt. Or Troy
In an article about Lance Armstrong, Michael Specter, of The New Yorker, said that the four-time Tour de France champion was, other than Dubya, the only one-name Texan.
“Too Sick” Is More Accurate Anyway
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, dismayed that its acronym, TNRCC, was traditionally pronounced “train wreck,” changed its name to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ.
Just Quit After $70,500, Bob, and Keep the Change
A truck traveling to San Antonio from the U.S. Mint in Denver crashed in West Texas and spilled $76,000 worth of pennies into a muddy roadside ditch, compelling the truckline’s insurance company to pay Robert Massengale, of Lubbock, $5,500 to clean the dirt off the 7.6 million coins.
The Remainder Went For the Garage
Mel Spillman, a former courthouse clerk who made $33,000 a year, pleaded guilty in April to charges of forgery, tampering with government records, and impersonating a public servant after Bexar County officials discovered he had defrauded at least 65 San Antonioarea estates of some $4.9 million and used the money to buy a $400,000 home and five Ferraris.
The Two-Headed Calf Was Too Big to Hide in Their Pants
Thieves entered the Frontier Times Museum in Bandera and stole a shrunken head.
Right Away The Cop Spotted The Longneck
Laynoil Tratel Jefferson attempted to rob a Taylor convenience store using a beer bottle as a weapon but was arrested by a policeman who had been driving by and noticed that Jefferson was wearing no clothes.
We Liked It Better When They Were Burning Bonfires, Not Crosses
The Battalion, the school newspaper at Texas A&M University, published a cartoon that perpetuated racist stereotypes of African Americans, showing a black mother, with exaggerated lips and eyes, scolding her son for getting an F on his report card.
Tomorrow’s Forecast: “Don’t Know Why, There’s No Sun Up In The Sky / Stormy Weather . . .”
KENS-TV and the San Antonio Express-News both fired Albert Flores, the chief meteorologist for the TV station and a columnist for the newspaper, after learning that he had plagiarized some of the content of the columns that he wrote for the newspaper four times a week.
Today’s Special: Fig Leaf Supreme
The ultraconservative Republican Leadership Council of Montgomery County boycotted a local Italian restaurant, Buca di Beppo, because the interior included photographs of nude artworks on public display in Italy.
We Can’t Go On Beating Like This
Suzanne Edwards, of Longview, was arrested for punching her husband, Kenneth Edwards, inside the Gregg County courthouse, where he had just posted bail to free her on charges of assault that had resulted from her punching him earlier the same day.
I Love My Wife But, Oh, You Kid!
In what became known in Odessa as “the love goat case,” an oil-field worker unsuccessfully sued a landowner for damages after he was attacked while checking a well on the defendant’s land by a goat that was alleged to be in heat.
Attention, Shoppers: We Have a Red-and-Blue-Light Special
After a police raid intended to curb illegal drag racing in west Houston was thwarted because officers found no such activity, Captain Mark Aguirre, of the Houston Police Department, ordered officers to arrest 278 people who happened to be present in a Kmart parking lot where drag racers sometimes gathered.
Hollywood, We Have a Problem
Apollo 13, the Oscar-nominated film that stars Tom Hanks and tells the story of the near-fatal lunar mission launched from NASA’s Houston facility in 1970, was adapted to the supersized IMAX format in 2002, but the theater at Space Center Houston chose not to show it.
Stuck on You
High school students Katy Polston and James Brady Carmichael, of Austin, designed and wore prom outfits made entirely of duct tape.
Spurned Houstonians Were Up in Armpits
San Antonio was named the sweatiest city in America, according to a survey performed by the manufacturers of Old Spice deodorant.
For a Fat City, You Sure Don’t Sweat Much
For the second year in a row, Houston was declared the nation’s fattest city by Men’s Fitness magazine.
What the 7734?
The makers of 7 UP, whose corporate headquarters are in Plano, attempted to increase lagging sales by introducing a new soda, also citrus flavored but colored bright green, and calling it dnL, which is 7 UP upside down.
How About “Reliant Astrodome, Jr.?”
In August Misty Williams and Willie Rangel, of Austin, offered to sell naming rights to their unborn child for $100,000.
Basketball Been Belly, Belly Good to Me
Kendal Davis is a member of a group of well-rounded, all-male fans who serve as unofficial cheerleaders at Dallas Mavericks games.
Hook ’em, Hornies!
Larry Faulkner, the president of the University of Texas at Austin, ordered a recall of all 22,000 copies of the campus phone directory because the back cover was a full-page ad for a local strip club and featured skimpily clad women.
“Mother Teresa” Would Have Been Too Obvious
Kathrine Weikel, of Dallas, was ruled ineligible to run for the position of county clerk after her opponent in the Democratic primary protested the fact that she was running not under her real name but, in an apparent attempt to confuse voters, as “Kay Hutchison.”
They Needed It to Build Their Case
The Dallas Police Department revealed that it had paid a confidential informant $200,000 for tips leading to some eighty drug busts, only to discover that almost half of the cocaine seized was in fact finely crushed Sheetrock.
The Robe Was Fake, But the Collar Was Real
A Florida man was arrested in Falfurrias after the Border Patrol’s drug-sniffing dogs began barking at the trunk of his car, thus spoiling his plan to fool officers by dressing like a Catholic priest.
The Prudest Little Playhouse in Texas
In mid-May, according to the Associated Press, the board of the Crighton Theatre in Conroe ordered that all profanity be removed from its production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, prompting the director, cast, and crew to walk out in protest.
Is That a Yes Or a No?
After two America West pilots had been removed from a flight two weeks earlier for drunkenness, the airline kicked Austinite Hans von Schweinitz and his family off a flight from Phoenix to Seattle because he asked a crew member if the pilots had taken a sobriety test.
Shoat First, Ask Questions Later
After police officers in Hot Springs, Arkansas, arrived at the house where Richard Barajas, of Houston, was staying, intending to arrest him for possession of a controlled substance, Barajas jumped from a balcony and ran but made the mistake of hiding in the sty of a neighbor’s pet potbellied pig, whose alarmed squeals led to his capture.
There Was No Charge for the Bats in Her Belfry
Sandra McKee, of Waxahachie, convinced her husband, Charles, that they should build a $250,000 Victorian-style house identical to that used in her favorite TV series, The Munsters.
Next Time,Try Menudo
Three women who had traveled on a bus from Laredo to Dallas were arrested after Dallas police officers found that they had hidden, underneath their clothes, several cellophane-wrapped bricks of cocaine, which they had slathered with mole sauce to repulse drug-sniffing dogs.
Before deciding not to run for reelection, Austin City Council member Beverly Griffith included in a political flyer a picture of a large and diverse group of people under the slogan “Beverly Brings Us Together!” The photo was not a picture of Griffith’s supporters, however, but of a generic crowd image stocked by the photography Web site www. gettyone.com.
He Violated The Penile Code
An eighteen-year-old college student in San Antonio, on probation for driving while intoxicated, was caught by his probation officer smuggling in a fake urine sample and wearing a prosthetic phallus so that he could pretend he was actually urinating.
Show Us the Green Cheese or Shut Up
NASA agreed to pay a former aeronautics engineer, James Oberg, $15,000 to write a 30,000-word book that would refute claims from skeptics who think the July 20, 1969, moon landing was a hoax.
Gouda Grief! It Was A Muenster Collision. The Truckles Did a Rollot and the Driver Was in a Trappe, Gasping for Gruyère. “Edam It!” He Screamed. “I Can’t Brie!”He Realized He Had Székely One Chance. “If You Don’t Steppe on It And Get Out ofHere,” He Told Himself, “Gjetost. You Need a Bitto Luck.” Aurore Went up From the Spectators as He Leaped Ovár the Flames. “Muchas Gras,” the Driver Said to the Crowd. “I Almost Bleu It. I Promessi You, I’m Going to Drink A Margherita and Eat A Limburger. Sposi Can Find a Couple of Bondes?” But Luck Cantal Be Good. When He Tried to Make Like Romano And Juliet in the Back Seat of a Chèvre, She Said, “Hit the Road, Jack.” O Cruel Feta! But Queso-ra, Sera
An eighteen-wheeler caught fire near Snyder in July and melted its cargo of hundreds of pounds of mozzarella cheese.
Customs Became Suspicious When They Saw a Dozen Thin, Hollow-Cheeked People SuckingOn His Sleeves
A smuggler was arrested in Houston after he attempted to enter the United States carrying clothes soaked with 55 pounds of heroin.