The 2008 Bum Steer Awards

It was a year of angry Aggies, Baptist bravado, confused Cheney, death row drollery, enemas in evidence, fetid feet, ghetto gobbledygook, helicopter hunts, insurance idiocy, jerk judges, kin kidnappers, lawbreaking Longhorns, meshuggener misfires, NASA nimrods, Oswald online, pooped-on presidents, quick quarrels, requested roaches, scrotum-scarring Sooners, taped teenagers, unhinged urinators, visible Virgins, weaselly Whole Foods, X-rated x-classmates, yuletide yikes, and zeroed-out zebras.

January 2008By Comments

Illustration by P. Loughran

You know it’s been a weird year when Ron Paul runs for president and makes more sense than his Republican rivals. When Tom Craddick claims to have total power but a Speaker’s race rages 24/7/365. When pro-life, gay-hostile, gun-friendly Rick Perry signs on with pro-choice, gay-friendly, gun-hostile Rudy Giuliani. When Kay Bailey Hutchison sounds as if she might really run for governor after all. When George W. Bush and Al Gore talk global warming in the Oval Office. When Karl Rove leaves the White House (don’t come back, please).

Sports was just as strange as politics. The Dallas Mavericks became the first top-seeded NBA team to lose to the bottom-seeded team in a seven-game playoff series. Bobby Knight did his best Dick Cheney impression, spraying pellets during two hunting trips outside Lubbock. The Houston Astros fired their general manager and manager and lost Craig Biggio to retirement; mainly, though, they lost—89 times. The woeful Texas Rangers set a major league record by scoring thirty runs in a game. Of course, they still finished last in their division.

Of all the Bum Steer sagas that played out over the past year, however, none was stranger than that of the man ESPN called “dumber than a blocking sled.” Yep, it’s the Aggies’ own Dennis Franchione. His $2 million salary evidently wasn’t enough; he moonlighted as the author of a VIP newsletter, which he sent out by e-mail to 23 well-heeled boosters willing to pay $1,200 for inside dope about injuries and recruits. Unsportsmanlike conduct! When A&M learned of his other gig, the university had to report two rules violations to the NCAA. Even beating Texas two years in a row couldn’t keep him in his job. Congrats, Coach Fran. You’re the Bum Steer of the Year.

Funny, the opposite happened to Representative Passhole Jones In the Texas House directory for the Eightieth Legislature, the listing for Representative Richard J. “Rick” Noriega, of Houston, added the letter p to the beginning of his nickname.

Two rongs don’t make a write A caption accompanying a picture of Anna Nicole Smith in the Houston Chronicle noted, “The model could barely right a sentence.”

You know what they also say? “We find the defendants guilty of criminally negligent homicide” After it was discovered that ApothéCure, a Dallas compounding pharmacy, incorrectly formulated a medication that resulted in three patient deaths at an Oregon clinic, Gary Osborn, the owner of the company, said, “You know what people say, stuff happens.”

Cecelia Lynn Coy-Jones

Coming up at ten: She does five Cecelia Lynn Coy-Jones, a reporter for KCBD-TV, in Lubbock, was arrested for attempted aggravated kidnapping after lurking in the maternity wards of two Amarillo hospitals, because, she claimed, she was investigating how secure they were from would-be kidnappers.

Hairy Christmas! A shopping mall, the Outlets at Conroe, hired a rock climber in a Santa suit to rappel down an eighty-foot sign and light a holiday tree, but he had to be rescued when his fake beard got tangled up in his climbing gear.

Usually a Baylor football coach isn’t relieved until the season is over Baylor offensive line/tight end coach Eric Schnupp was cited for disorderly conduct and indecent exposure after relieving himself on the bar at Scruffy Murphy’s, in Waco.

Illegal contract on the home team! Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terry Glenn filed a lawsuit against former Dallas Mavericks player Robert Pack, alleging Pack reneged on a deal to sell Glenn his house.

Shofar, So Bad Marvin Marks, who retired from a career in law enforcement, accidentally shot his daughter in the foot and injured two other worshippers when his concealed handgun dropped to the floor and discharged during Rosh Hashanah services at Temple Emanu-El, in Dallas.

Billy Joe Shaver
Getty Images/Rick Diamond

With you handling his case, he’s about to find out After musician Billy Joe Shaver was charged with shooting a man following an argument at a bar, his attorney, Joe Turner, observed, “He’s already done twenty years in Waco. What more can they do to him?”

There are reasons? University of Texas researchers David Buss and Cindy Meston claimed to have identified 237 reasons why people have sex.

That’s why they call it a sex drive Officers responding to the scene of an accident near New Braunfels found that the occupants of one of the vehicles, Lisa Marie Bishop and her passenger, Robert Rydeen, were completely naked.

Victory Family Church
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Jill Johnson

Does being consigned to a lifetime of damnation in a fiery hell work? Just did! Victory Family Church, of Decatur, erected a billboard with the message “I Hate Victory Family Church—Satan.”

Smile and say, “Jeez, I’m stupid!” Thieves who burglarized video game magnate Richard Garriott’s Austin estate in February left behind a digital camera with photos of themselves smiling for the camera inside his house.

Cock-a-doodle-doofus To protest three felony theft charges he says were politically motivated, Willacy County district attorney Juan Angel Guerra began living with a rooster in an RV parked outside the county jail.

Illustration By P.J. Loughran

The first time an ass in a Texas courtroom hasn’t been addressed as “Counselor” Attorney Gregory Shamoun’s donkey, Buddy, was called as the first witness in a lawsuit pitting Shamoun against his Dallas neighbor, oilman John Cantrell.

¿Como Estes? Senator Craig Estes, of Wichita Falls, introduced legislation that would have authorized the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to build prisons in Mexico to house the approximately four thousand Mexican nationals serving time in the state prison system for nonviolent offenses, because, he said, “It’s a heck of a lot less expensive to build and staff prisons down there.”

The only thing is, our guys can’t score at the Ballpark Men’s Health ranked Arlington as the fourth-best city to meet single men among 101 U.S. cities surveyed.

Mengele, Jekyll, and Kevorkian were unavailable Dr. Nilon Tallant, of Fort Worth, a convicted sex offender, was honored by the Texas House of Representatives on January 12 as its “Doctor for the Day.”

That’s really sticking it to him American Airlines suspended a pilot for one month without pay after he placed a sticker on the outside of his plane criticizing the more than $160 million in bonuses that were given to the company’s top 874 executives and managers.

The man, that is. The dog was wearing a coat In the middle of a June rainstorm, police officers in North Richland Hills arrested a man who was walking his dog naked.

No reality show left behind! Sugar Land elementary school teacher Amber Alchalabi missed 22 workdays so that she could appear on The Bachelor.

They’re ushering in a new E.R.A. Of secrecy The Houston Independent School District refused to release player statistics to the parent of a player on the Bellaire High School baseball team, arguing that it would violate the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which is normally invoked to protect students’ academic records. Nicholas

That was no Moose. That was Harry Whittington Houston billionaire Dan Duncan was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to answer questions about a hunting trip in Russia during which he shot a moose and a sheep while riding in a helicopter.

Sasha Bigho was already taken Kristen Syvette Wimberly sued Lara Madden, a former classmate at Kingwood High School, in Kingwood, after learning that Madden had been performing in pornographic movies under the name Syvette Wimberly.

AP/John Raoux

We would have gone with “Mishin Accomplished” NASA hung a large “GO ENDEAVOR!” banner on the launchpad prior to the July arrival of the space shuttle Endeavour.

Or you could, I don’t know, pray Paige Patterson, the president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Fort Worth, told male seminarians that he expected them to prevent a Virginia Tech–style massacre from happening there by charging an assailant, sacrificing their lives if necessary.

Ding! Bat! A Southwest Airlines employee threatened to remove passenger Kyla Ebbert from a flight unless she pulled her miniskirt down and her top up.

He was flying into Self-Love Field Another Southwest Airlines passenger was ordered to change his T-shirt, turn it inside out, or get off the plane because his shirt had an ad for a tackle shop and the words “Master Baiter.”

I Like Me! I Really Like Me! The Press Club of Dallas, which hands out the Katie Awards for outstanding journalism in the Southwest, charged that its former president Elizabeth Albanese never submitted entries for the 2006 competition to an independent panel of judges but rather made up the results, awarding herself four Katies.

Illustration By P.J. Loughran

Okay, Houshton, perhapsh we do have a li’l teenshy-weenshy, itty-bitty problem An independent panel of experts issued a report claiming that NASA had permitted astronauts to fly after they had been drinking heavily in the hours before liftoff.

Hail, Mary, Full Of Cheese. Extra Toppings, 50 Cents In February cafeteria workers at L.L. Pugh Elementary, in Houston, claimed to see the image of the Virgin in a pizza pan.

Roses are red, violets are blue, you #$%* home wreckers, I’m gonna sue Leroy Greer, of Missouri City, filed a lawsuit against 1-800-FLOWERS for faxing his wife a receipt for flowers he’d sent to his girlfriend.

See, they do know how to play hardball The Texas Rangers, whose home is the 49,200-seat Ballpark in Arlington, donated $15,000 in direct-mail and consulting fees to a political action committee opposing the construction of a 6,000-seat minor league ballpark in Grand Prairie.

AP/Harry Cabluck

He had to return them to Tom Craddick by midnight State senator Tommy Williams, of the Woodlands, wore a Darth Vader mask and a black cape on the Senate floor in response to a newspaper editorial that referred to him as the Prince of Darkness.

As Potter Stewart might have said: you know fornography when you see it The Texas Department of Transportation refused to issue a vanity license plate reading “FORNO 1” to Armando Florido, of Houston, the owner of the Fornos of Italy restaurant chain, because the agency regarded forno, which means “oven” in Italian, as obscene.

Also: No more reading fairy tales The Lorena Independent School District canceled a student trip to Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, when district officials learned the trip was scheduled for the city’s Gay Pride Week.

Lynch is the one who can sing According to the recently published biography Cheney: The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President, by Stephen F. Hayes, Dick Cheney mistook Jessica Simpson for Jessica Lynch, who was a prisoner of war in Iraq.

No, you idiot! Chertoff said to hide them in the garage! Department of Homeland Security plans for an expansion of a border crossing station in El Paso were found in a construction dumpster behind the studios of Austin television station KXAN.

What’s black and white and not read all over? The Texas State Library and Archives Commission issued a 668-page report in October complaining that state agencies issue too many reports.

Illustration by P.J. Loughran

Is that a banana in our airspace or is he just glad to see us? Artist Cesar Saez, of Canada, announced plans to fly a one-thousand-foot-long yellow banana-shaped balloon over Texas in the summer of 2008.

A chip off the old blockhead Arguing against an expansion of the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, Representative Robert Talton, of Pasadena, said, “When I was raised, I didn’t have insurance, and my family did just fine.”

He got credit for the sac Allen Michael Beckett, of Oklahoma City, was charged with aggravated assault and battery after he grabbed the crotch of a man wearing a University of Texas shirt, tearing his scrotum.

You can bet the bank’s insurance company invoked the “acts of God” clause Before making his getaway, a man who robbed a Fort Worth bank in April told a teller, “No one can see me because I am God.”

Not to mention conventional wisdom Waxahachie High School student Pete Palmer was sent to the principal’s office and told he would not be allowed to return to class until he removed a T-shirt reading “John Edwards 08,” which was said to have violated the school district’s dress code.

What thou seest, write in a book and fling it into the yards of thy readers In May the Fort Worth Star-Telegram announced that its carriers would deliver more than 200,000 copies of the New Testament with subscribers’ Sunday papers by year’s end.

May God have mercy on his soles Houston police said William Antonio Serrano stabbed his roommate to death in October because the victim complained that Serrano’s feet smelled.

John Mackey
Corbis/Jeff Minton

Peas trust me. Wild Oats doesn’t know beans about the food business. They make me grits my teeth and go nuts. I’m not going to jambalaya to you: John Mackey at Whole Foods is the best CEO in America, a peach of a guy, a good egg. He’ll beet the competition every time and squash Wild Oats. Other CEOs are greens with envy. He’s got the market collard. At Whole Foods, management and workers live in hominy. The kosher food is blessed by the kohlrabi. Nobody ever said that Whole Foods is parsley populated, but at Wild Oats stores, few customers are romaine the aisles. That’s why they can’t salsify Wall Street. Their bottom line sprang a leek. The truffle with Wild Oats is that their profit margin took an endive. They’d rather be safe than sorrel. Lettuce face the truth. John Mackey knows how to make the chard choices. He’ll escarole the dice. He’ll kale the competition and artichoke them. He’ll a-maize you. His mind runs deep, not shallot. Soya later, succory John Mackey, the chairman and CEO of Whole Foods Market, which was trying to acquire one of its competitors, Wild Oats Markets, admitted to writing more than one thousand anonymous posts on’s financial message boards, many in glowing praise of his company and harshly critical of Wild Oats.

Act now: They’ll throw in the bronze star for an extra twelve bucks In August 75-year-old Nyles Reed, of Pearland, received a letter from the U.S. Navy Personnel Command telling him he had finally been approved for a Purple Heart for injuries he received as a Marine during the Korean War, along with a form that said the medal was “out of stock” and a suggestion that he buy his own from a military surplus store, which he did, for $42.

Raider Shirt
AP/LM Otero

Guns up! IQs down! Before the Red Raiders game against the Aggies, members of a Texas Tech University fraternity sold T-shirts depicting a football player stringing up Reveille, the A&M mascot.

In the end, he was just a drunk In August criminally negligent homicide charges against Tammy Jean Warner, of Texas City, were dropped because authorities said there was insufficient evidence to prove that she caused the alcohol poisoning death of her husband, Michael, by giving him a sherry enema.

Somebody’s brown with envy About four months after Austin firefighter Rebecca Farris received a promotion, excrement was smeared on her locker at the station house.

The hard evidence shriveled up Eight Chippendales dancers who were arrested during a performance in a Lubbock bar were released the following day because, as a lieutenant with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s office explained, “there wasn’t enough to hold them.”

Hunting sign Hosea

Shooting your mouth off, however, is permitted Explaining his refusal to sell the Christmas Mountains Ranch, near Big Bend, to the National Park Service, which has strict rules prohibiting firearms on parkland, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson declared, “No hunting, no firearms, no deal.”

The sparrows hate our freedom During a press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House, a bird pooped on President Bush’s shoulder.

Employees of the museum’s cafeteria were ineligible To stock a new exhibit, the Houston Museum of Natural Science offered to pay 25 cents for each of the first one thousand live cockroaches brought in by the public.

They would also be unable to pass a plate of cookies In June Edinburg fire chief Shawn Snider said that firemen who battled a warehouse fire fueled by a ton of blazing marijuana were exposed to so much smoke that they would probably be unable to pass a drug test afterward.

Crashes to crashes, dust to dust Texas State University abandoned plans to build a “body farm,” where buried and exposed human corpses would be allowed to decompose naturally to help crime scene investigators hone their skills, because hovering buzzards were a possible risk to planes at nearby San Marcos Municipal Airport.

Rangers Fans
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Ron Jenkins

Why prolong the agony? Next time use a plastic bag

The thugs of texas are upon us/all throughout the year/the thugs of texas are upon us/that’s why we live in fear/ if they don’t cause a wreck first/they’ll come to steal your stuff/the thugs of texas are upon us/ till!/Mack!/ Brown!/Wis-es!/ Uuuuuup! Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Andre Jones was arrested in August for aggravated robbery. His alleged accomplice in the crime was safety Robert Joseph, who had been charged in June with burglarizing a vehicle. Also in the off-season, defensive end Henry Melton and linebacker Sergio Kindle were arrested, separately, for driving while intoxicated.

Maybe Andre Jones and Robert Joseph stole them The University of Texas System settled a lawsuit filed against Texas A&M University graduate Fadi Kalaouze, who created a line of merchandise called Saw ’Em Off featuring UT’s Longhorn logo with the horns removed.

Mack Brown bought 121 copies Student Body of Law for Texas, by criminal defense attorney Scot Courtney, of San Marcos, promises “everything the college student needs to know about the law,” with chapters such as “‘Let’s Party!’” and “Self-Defense, Guns, & Weapons.”

The Reverend Dwight McKissic
AP/Tony Gutierrez

His parting words were “Locka mocka rocka tocka wiggy wiggy woo” The Reverend Dwight McKissic, of Arlington, resigned from the board of trustees of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary after casting the sole dissenting vote against a resolution banning the promotion of speaking in tongues.

Moral of the story: don’t sell soup to nuts In July Lea Suzan Sechler was arrested for putting mothballs in a soup kettle at a Randalls grocery store in Austin.

They slow-danced to “Stuck on You” Will Drummond and Shauna Davis, of North Richland Hills, were finalists in a college scholarship contest that required them to attend their high school prom dressed in outfits covered in duct tape.

Anne owes Bob $4. Bob owes Carol $3. Carol owes Anne $5. If Carol settles all the debts by giving money to both Anne and Bob, what is the probability that Houghton Mifflin gets the wrong answer? The State Board of Education found nearly 110,000 errors in the 164 elementary school mathematics textbooks proposed by publishers for use in the 2008–2009 school year, including 86,026 errors in the books submitted by Houghton Mifflin.

Roger Clemens
AP/Chris O’Meara

Big Deal. He told the Yankees he was feeling below par Roger Clemens played in the Administaff Small Business Classic charity golf tournament in Houston on October 13, six days after the New York Yankees removed him from their playoff roster because of injury.

Two hits, two errors, none left A baseball game at the Fairview Community Center, in Rusk County, was interrupted when a quarrel between a player and a heckler—who, as it happened, were cousins—escalated from an argument to a fistfight and, finally, to gunplay, with each man wounding the other with his shotgun.

He Dun Got Hisself in a Mess o’ Trouble! A Houston Independent School District police officer was fired after distributing an eight-page booklet filled with definitions of words and phrases from the “ghetto,” including the booklet’s title, Wucha Dun Did Now?

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Lee who?”
“Lee Thalinjection!”
Before he was executed in Huntsville on June 26, convicted murderer Patrick Knight solicited entries for a funniest joke contest, promising that he would recite the winning entry as his last words.

Perfect for a lone bidder Caruth Byrd, whose father owned the Texas School Book Depository building from which John F. Kennedy was shot, put up for auction on eBay a window that he claimed was Lee Harvey Oswald’s infamous sixth-floor sniper’s perch.

Sexy Chicken
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Stewart House

She showed too much thigh The owners of the Sexy Chicken restaurant, in North Richland Hills, were warned they could be in violation of a town ordinance designed to prevent driver distraction by having an employee parade in front of the restaurant dressed as a sexy chicken.

“Bexar County Sheriff” would like to be added as one of your friends A San Antonio woman was arrested after she posted a message on MySpace offering $500 to anyone who could abduct her son from his father’s custody.

For once, the biggest loser in the park wasn’t an Astro During a Houston Astros home game in August, a man sprang a surprise marriage proposal on his female companion as 30,000 cheering fans watched on the stadium’s giant video screen, only to have the woman react with shock and horror, dump her popcorn on his head, and walk out.

The next line was “Then test-drive a Ford down the path to citizenship!” Georgetown car dealership Mac Haik Ford Lincoln Mercury sent an e-mail advertising air-conditioned seats with the headline “Tired of the Wet Backs????” to several members of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Doo unto others . . . The Fellowship Church of Grapevine proposed dumping treated wastewater into a direct tributary of Lake Hawkins rather than into one of the two lakes it plans to build on its property.

Bert’s Bar B-Q
Austin American-Statesman/Brian K. Diggs

Today’s specials: smoked turkey, char-o beans, and really hot links Responding to a report of smoke billowing from the roof of Bert’s Bar B-Q, in Austin, a fire department dispatcher said it was probably coming from the restaurant’s meat smoker and didn’t issue an alarm. Within 45 minutes, the restaurant was in flames.

Who’s wearing stripes now? In July Joshua Romano, of Red Oak, was accused of killing a zebra in a drive-by shooting outside a miniature- and exotic- animal farm near Waxahachie.

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