The 2012 Bum Steer Awards

January 2012By Comments

Illustrations by John Ritter

Did anyone enjoy 2011? Rick Perry thought he would: he started it with his historic third inauguration. But his year would not end as well as it began. Fact is, we can’t remember the last time anybody raced from hero to punch line at such high speeds. Not that he was alone in his stumbles. The Legislature swerved downhill as well, crashing through one regular and one special session, making sure that billions of dollars were slashed from education while billions were stashed in the Rainy Day Fund. Speaking of rain, Mother Nature denied us a drop of it. And with no money and no rain, it was every man for himself. Just ask the Longhorns and Aggies. The University of Texas scored a $300 million TV deal for a station almost nobody could watch, and Texas A&M split for another conference entirely, but not before firing its coach on the way out.

Yet no other Aggie had a year quite like the governor’s. No sooner had he declared his candidacy and found himself sitting atop the polls than he began his precipitous descent. On his travels north of the Red River, the governor just seemed to forget how to talk. From Iowa to New Hampshire, where he delivered the most bizarre public address since Sean Penn accepted an Oscar, Perry had so many goofs, flubs, and brain freezes that his campaign released an ad in which he explained, “I’m a doer, not a talker.”

But all of this was mere prelude to a gaffe so epic it gave late-night comedians more material than they knew what to do with. As millions of viewers watched, Perry spent 53 excruciating seconds of the November 9 Republican debate trying to remember the word “energy.” (To be fair, it does have three syllables.) Not since Perry’s predecessor asserted that he knew how hard it was for working-class families “to put food on your family” has a 
politician enriched the Internet with so many 
I-can’t-believe-I’m-watching-this videos. 
Sure, sure, our misoverestimated leader could still recover and follow George W. Bush to the White House. But even if he does, we’ll make sure that on his curriculum vitae, right between the entries for “47th Governor of Texas” and “45th President of the United States,” there stands one other worthy accomplishment. Rick Perry, you’re our 2012 Bum Steer of the Year!

Click here to see our Venn diagram showing Rick Perry’s talking problems.

If you see THE suspect, call police and leave—don’t wade around

A man wielding a gun stole an inflatable kiddie pool from a San Antonio 
Walmart Supercenter. He tried to steal an inflatable boat as well but quickly abandoned that idea before stepping into his getaway car, a taxicab.

Clearly he 
was incontinent 
to stand trial

While on trial in 
Tyler for shooting at a peace officer in a Smith County juvenile facility, seventeen-year-old Corey Webb urinated in a courtroom trash can. Judge Kerry Russell told Webb, “I don’t know how you were raised, but peeing 
in a trash can in a state district courtroom is inappropriate behavior.”

I see dead 
law enforcement 

News sites around the world posted near-real-time updates as Liberty County sheriff’s officers and FBI agents mounted urgent, high-profile searches of two properties on consecutive days, fruitlessly looking for a purported mass grave of up to thirty bodies. The law officers later admitted that the operation was based on unsolicited tips from a self-described psychic.

Or maybe force 
you to watch 
Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure

After Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, claimed that a cabal of “Hollywood star whackers,” who may have murdered David Carradine and Heath Ledger, was out to kill the Houston-born actor, Quaid released a song, “Star Whackers,” which lists a number of unusual methods an assassin can employ, including “maybe squeeze your balls with a nylon rope.”

Click here to watch Quaid singing “Star Whackers.”

Few know that 
the W stands for “Watch out below!”

Just months after its grand opening, the ultra-hip W Hotel in downtown Austin was forced to close when glass panels from the high-rise’s balconies began crashing to the ground, injuring multiple people.

He’s not just a team 
mascot, he’s also a member

For obvious reasons, the fledgling Amarillo Sox baseball team retired 
its mascot’s new costume 
after one game.

And to find the 
route to Madame 
Chi Chi’s with 
the fewest transfers

Houston METRO president and CEO George Greanias was suspended for one week without pay—a financial hit of approximately $4,500—after an internal investigation revealed that he had used the agency’s 
Internet access 
to visit websites 
advertising adult 
escort services.

Renny has just checked in at the 
Travis County 
Correctional Complex

The victim of a daytime office robbery told Austin police that the man who held her up had distinctive 
tattoos and heavy black-framed glasses. Soon afterward, she saw a man named Renny Harvard in a Crime Stoppers ad and thought he might be the perpetrator. The ID was confirmed by a quick look at Harvard’s Facebook page, which featured photos of him sporting the tattoos and glasses she had described.

Dude, you’re 
getting a cell!

Round Rock police—including the SWAT team—responded to a report of a masked gunman entering a building on Dell Inc.’s campus and herding frightened employees into the lobby. The commotion ended when officers realized the “threat” was an in-house promotion for a new product launch gone wrong.

Two things that 
come to mind are 
destructive acts of petty jealousy 
and reckless self-

Looking into a suspicious fire that destroyed a pickup truck, Austin arson investigators learned that seventeen-year-old Taylor Zane Cross allegedly showed friends an iPhone video of the truck, which belonged to a romantic rival, going up in flames. Cross reportedly admonished his friends not to talk, because, he said, “you know what I am capable of now.”

It’s Just Around 
the Corner 
from Toothless Junkie Donuts

Within days of opening her new Waco burger joint, Lakita Evans had lines out the door and tons of free online publicity. Most reports rated the food at her place as just average; the buzz was over its name: Fat Ho Burgers.

And forget about 
Tom Cruise serving 
as grand marshal 
of the Ingleside 
on the Bay Shrimp 
Day Parade

Seeking to curtail the activities of a group of Scientologists who relentlessly videotaped the activities of local resident Mark Rathbun, a prominent Scientology defector, Ingleside on the Bay’s city council considered an ordinance that would require film crews to obtain a permit to work within city limits. The council dropped the plan when a letter from the group’s lawyer suggested the city could end up in “litigation 
it cannot win.”

Um, upon further review . . .

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams mailed a $76,000 diamond ring to his girlfriend, former Miss Texas USA Brooke Daniels, of Tomball, as a marriage proposal. When Daniels spurned the offer, Williams demanded the ring back, but, according to Williams, Daniels claimed she had lost it. Faced with a lawsuit from Williams, her father admitted the family had the ring and returned it.

Your foot is now 
free to move about your mouth

A Southwest Airlines pilot launched into a cockpit tirade against flight attendants he had met during a Chicago stopover (“It was just a continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes”), unaware that his mike was live and his comments were being broadcast to air traffic controllers and other pilots.

Click here to listen to the tirade.

that corner was 
in Motley County

Despite drought conditions, ATF agents in Motley County detonated explosives confiscated by local law enforcement agencies, starting a wildfire that burned 150 acres. “You can quote me on it,” said county attorney Tom Edwards. “That bunch has a real corner on stupid.”

“As a fugitive, 
I feel I bring 
a unique perspective to the job”

An arrest warrant was issued for Megan Marsteller when she twice failed to show up to serve a four-day sentence at the Tarrant County jail, a condition of her probation on a drug charge. Authorities then learned that Marsteller had fled the state for Pennsylvania—to take a job working at a county probation department.

Second opinion? 
Doc Gossett’s an idiot

A Burleson mother filed a complaint with the Texas Medical Board against Dr. Carl W. Gossett, who examined her five-year-old son in the ER of Huguley Memorial Medical Center and then handed her a prescription that said, “Apply large paddle to bottom of child anytime he needs it.”

For an extra $500 
donation, One Eye and Mad Dog will drop by to clean your pool

Republican state representative Debbie Riddle, of Tomball, held a fundraiser at which top contributors received rare thank-you gifts: exact replicas of the desks used by representatives in the Texas House. The desks, which are not available to the general public, are made by inmates in Texas state prisons.


Early one morning in March, police were called to a Corpus Christi Whataburger, where they found a teenage boy passed out drunk in the drive-through lane behind the wheel of his still-running pickup. About an hour later they responded to the same situation at another Whataburger, only with a different boy in a different truck.

In this corner, 
wearing jeans, a 
justin bieber T-shirt, and a retainer . . .

Robert Gonzales and Monica Ochoa, of Austin, were charged with injury to a child after they arranged a fistfight between their feuding fourteen- and fifteen-year-old daughters. A video of the fight, which left one of the teens with a bruised eye, was posted on YouTube.

That’s why they call her Gram-ma

Wilma Johnson McQueen, an 83-year-old widow, was arrested for drug possession and money laundering after a multiagency task force found weapons, cash, and half a kilo of cocaine in her Livingston home. McQueen told authorities that when her husband died the year before, she stepped in to keep his business running.

They were initially stopped for unsanitary vehicle emissions

Samuel Olivo Jr. and Jose Rios were arrested 
on Austin’s Sixth Street for driving while intoxicated. Olivo was “driving” a horse; Rios was on a mule.

HPD Robbery 
Division and 47 
others “like” this

Authorities investigating a robbery at a Houston bank branch didn’t realize it was an inside job until it was brought to their attention that two days before the robbery, bank teller Estefany Martinez posted a Facebook status update that read, “Get $$$.” Two days after the crime, her status read, “IM RICH BITCH.” Martinez and her three accomplices eventually pleaded guilty to 
the crime.

Take me out to a ’Stros game
Down at Minute Maid Park
buy me some beers and some daiquiris
then watch out as i do what i please
for it’s shove, shove, shove little princess
And steal her ball with no shame
Cause I’m
Bitch! by first base
At the Astros game!

A telecast of an Astros game at Minute Maid Park showed a woman in the field boxes jostling a little girl just as a player tossed a ball to her. After ripping the ball from the girl’s hands, the woman turned and high-fived her friends, while the little girl trudged off.

Click here to watch the woman steal the ball.

plus, his blood–
apple juice level 
was off the charts

Though the Leander police department later acknowledged that the law specifies fifteen as the minimum age of responsibility for the offense, a policeman wrote ten-year-old Marshall May a ticket for improperly wearing his seat belt.

Okay, now try less screaming, more smoldering

Hearing screamed threats coming 
from religious 
studies professor Richard Stadelmann’s classroom next door, Texas A&M women’s studies professor Joan Wolf called police, who discovered that Stadelmann was simply dramatizing a Bible scene. Stadelmann later told the local newspaper, “I’ve had training in method acting.”

I really wanna 
go home with 
the armadillo

Ida Greshen, of Dallas, was injured when an argument over money with an old flame turned physical. Insisting he pay off a $250 debt first, Greshen refused to let the man have the game meat he had stored in her freezer. Enraged, he struck her several times with the carcass he’d hoped to claim, a frozen armadillo.

Click here to watch the frozen armadillo fight.

P.S.: And I don’t 
want to here 
no silint almarms!

Nathan Wayne Pugh, of Sachse, received an eight-year prison sentence for robbing a Wells Fargo branch in Dallas. Pugh handed the teller a note that read, in part, “This is a bom. . . . Do not make any move till after I have left for ten mintis,” and then, at the teller’s request, helpfully showed his state ID and bank debit card. He was in police custody before he made it out of the lobby.

We know who will 
go down in history 
as the worst secretary the tcr 
has ever had!

Days after a man fired a semiautomatic weapon at the White House, Texas College Republicans state secretary Lauren Pierce, a UT student, tweeted that “tempting as it may be” to shoot the president, doing so would ruin his chance to “go down in history as the WORST president we’ve EVER had!”

And you thought 
the September 
issue of Vogue was 
really thick

A federal lawsuit 
alleged that Andy Surface, of Alvin, bilked Condé Nast—publisher of Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, and dozens of other periodicals—with 
an email claiming that his fraudulent printing company, Quad Graph (a name similar to that of Condé’s legitimate printer, Quad/Graphics), was owed an outstanding balance of $8 million, which the magazine giant’s accounting department dutifully paid, using the attached electronic transfer authorization form.

AND He was still pretty 
fuzzy the next morning

University of Texas police found a student passed 
out in the tall grass near a residence hall. UTPD’s “Campus Watch” reported that he smelled strongly of alcohol and was wearing a “brown furry bear costume.”

Dude, where’s my 
patrol car?

Attorneys for Nicholas Hill accused three Houston police officers of eating a plate of brownies they found in his kitchen, which he had told them were laced with marijuana. “So HIGH,” one of the officers wrote to the others on their vehicle-to-vehicle communication system, after ingesting the confectionary contraband. “Good munchies.”

The “best-dressed flashers” list was 
immediately scrapped

The Houston Press website drew widespread condemnation for printing a 
list of the “hottest” female sex offenders in Texas, which included, among others, a woman who committed aggravated sexual assault against a two-year-old boy.

they didn’t mean tostada dispute

After a lawsuit on 
her behalf was brought against the Miss Bexar County Organization, Domonique Ramirez was reinstated as Miss San Antonio 2011. The seventeen-year-old had been stripped of her title, she claimed, after pageant officials asked her to lose thirteen pounds off her size 2 frame. Pageant board president Linda Woods denied the move was weight-related but did admit she told Ramirez, “Get off the tacos.”

And some of them sound better than 
Simpson’s last single

Four days after 
she announced that she was expecting her first child, Jessica Simpson revealed to her millions of Twitter followers that 
the average pregnant woman expels more than two hundred farts a day.

He couldn’t think outside the gun

Ricardo Jones shot an air gun at the manager of a Taco Bell in San Antonio before driving off and was later arrested after a standoff with a police officer at a nearby hotel. Jones’s mini-rampage began when he learned that the seven Beefy Crunch Burritos he’d ordered had increased in price from 99 cents 
to $1.49 a piece.

No, the question is, Why were you flying so high?

While police and medics tried to clear the site of a highway accident outside 
Palestine late one Saturday night, 27-year-old Matthew Mitchell tried to maneuver his car around the emergency vehicles and ended up crashing into the tail fin of a Life Flight chopper that was parked on the road. Afterward, 
a reportedly inebriated Mitchell asked a DPS trooper, “Why was the helicopter 
flying so low?”

They get an A for affort

He was also 
cited for unlocking and entering

Lufkin man Marco Saucedo was sentenced to thirty days in jail for resisting arrest during an incident in which nine local police officers had to subdue him with pepper spray and physical force while attempting to apprehend him for breaking into what turned out to be his own home.

“Hang on, Warden. I’ve got to take this”

After felon David Puckett escaped from the Stiles Unit, in Beaumont, prison officials were embarrassed by allegations that Puckett had used a contraband cellphone to meet alleged accomplice Mattice Mayo on a social networking site, then call her nearly three hundred times.

Fore! and Five! and Six! Seven! Eight! Nine! Ten! Eleven! Twelve! Thirteen! Fourteen! Fifteen! Sixteen!

Professional golfer Kevin Na took sixteen strokes to complete the par-4 ninth hole during the first round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament in San Antonio.

Click here to watch Kevin Na.

What, no Johnson City? analyzed a geographic breakdown of sales of romance novels, relationship books, romantic comedies, Barry White’s music, and “sexual wellness products” and concluded that Round Rock and Frisco ranked twelfth and twentieth, respectively, among its Top Twenty Most Romantic Cities in America.

Too bad, because 
the spot featuring the drowning 
of the “test puppies” was hilarious

HomeAway, an Austin-based vacation-rentals website, aired an ad during the Super Bowl that showed a doll, labeled “test baby,” being launched into the air and smashing face-first into a glass wall. After being assailed for trivializing child abuse, the company revamped the ad, admitting that it was a “mistake in judgment.”

Click here to see the commercial.

Safe bet it started out as a much 
larger amount

Police responding 
to a late-night 
burglar alarm at a Taylor bank found robber Joshua Vargas at a teller’s booth 
eating M&Ms. In 
addition to felony burglary charges, Vargas was charged for having a small amount of marijuana.

Also, the figurine 
of Charles 
Whitman wielding 
a squeegee was 
in poor taste

The owner of an 
Austin car wash incurred the wrath of University of Texas lawyers, who warned him that the sixty-foot replica of the UT Tower adorning his new state-of-the-art $3 million car wash violated university trademarks.

It was no skin off his back—just his face, stomach, thighs, shoulders, and feet

A man was transported by helicopter from Lake Travis to an Austin hospital with second-degree burns over 40 percent of his body, the result of falling asleep while sunbathing in the nude.

A chicken in every yacht!

As lawmakers grappled with crippling revenue shortfalls during the legislative session, Republican state representative John Davis, of Houston, offered up a bill that would essentially give a sales-tax break to people buying yachts costing more than $250,000. A supporter of the (ultimately doomed) proposal testified that “this is not just for rich people. You can get used yachts as well.”

and It worked: He was first on the scene

Off-duty Austin police officer Michael Wayne Hamilton was arrested for driving while intoxicated after he totaled his police cruiser in a one-car rollover accident. As a member of the APD’s SWAT team, Hamilton had been issued the vehicle so he could respond to calls at all times.

Benito Apolinar has changed his marital status to “Further Estranged”

Benito Apolinar, of Pecos, was arrested after striking his estranged wife and pulling her hair, supposedly because she failed to “like” his Facebook status update marking the anniversary of his mother’s death.

Item 53: Cancel 
your subscription 
to D Magazine

Item number 50 in “What You Must Do in Dallas,” D Magazine’s list of 52 of “the city’s essential experiences,” was “Hire a day laborer,” which advised readers that to find “good, cheap labor,” they should “look for the vacant lot with the mustachioed men sitting on stumps . . . they’ll swarm your car, which can feel a bit like a nascent siege, but it’s normal.”

Thou shalt not 
covet thy neighbor’s wife. Coveting thy neighbor’s wife’s stuff, however, is okay

An hour after Dallas resident Serita Agnew mentioned to her pastor, Sandra Mc­Griff, that she was not at home, police caught Mc­Griff, a leader of the Church of the Living God, carrying two fur coats from Agnew’s house, her arm bleeding from having broken a window. Officers found more loot in McGriff’s Jaguar, parked in the driveway.

Not to worry, 
Texas, I have it under comptrol

Texas comptroller Susan Combs admitted that the names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of millions of Texans had been inadvertently stored on an easily accessible public server. Combs stressed that the data was removed immediately once the error was discovered—about a year after the mistake was made.

He’s not just 
a city planner, he’s 
a sh—ty planner

Lufkin city planner Trent Cantrell resigned after several of his Twitter posts drew widespread condemnation. The tweets included “Lufkin is an armpit. I know . . . I have to live here temporarily” and “Just waiting for the heat to leave for good. Of course, Deep East Texas will still be a sh-t hole.”

On Tonight’s 
Episode, Ryan Searches eBay for Farrah Poster

On the reality show Ryan and Tatum: The O’Neals, an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett—a gift to her from the artist—was seen hanging in Ryan O’Neal’s home. Lawyers for the University of Texas, to which Fawcett bequeathed her art collection, filed suit to recover the $30 million painting, the only work they had yet to account for.

Click here to watch scenes from the show and see Warhol’s portrait of Farrah.

the lard works in mysterious ways

An employee at a Jacob Stern and Sons facility near Houston caused a tank to rupture and spill 250,000 gallons of animal fat, 15,000 gallons of which ended up in the Houston Ship Channel, where congealed chunks of fat clogged the waterway.

That was clearly fowl

Two players on the struggling baseball squad at Fort Worth ISD’s Western Hills 
High School were thrown off the team and charged with cruelty to animals for decapitating two baby chicks 
near the practice field as a sacrifice 
to the baseball gods. (The team won 
two of its next three games.)

Note to self: rob strangers next time

Juan Carlos Bravo-Rivera robbed an Austin couple in their apartment at knifepoint. Identifying the suspect was easy for the victims; Bravo-Rivera lived in the apartment directly below theirs, which is where he was arrested.

Or, as they call 
them at Texas Tech, “toiletries”

Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne took to Twitter to complain that Texas Tech fans smeared excrement and spray-painted obscenities on the Aggie football team’s buses when they traveled to 
Lubbock to play the Red Raiders. Texas Tech countered that the excrement was only fish bait and the spray paint merely shoe polish.

Luckily, his “world’s best dad” mug was out of reach

During the domestic abuse trial of the prominent Houston hand surgeon Michael Brown (who was ultimately found not guilty), it was revealed that he had written a letter to 
his one-year-old daughter instructing her how to please a husband: “Act like your [sic] enjoying it and he’ll only take 5 minutes. Then, don’t forget to tell him how wonderful he was.” 
It was also alleged that during an argument, he threw a humanitarian award 
at his wife.

“Hullabaloo, I’ll slit your ca-neck, 

Deputy chancellor of the Texas A&M University System (and Rick Perry crony) Jay Kimbrough brandished a pocketknife when two A&M attorneys delivered the news that his $300,000-a-year job was being eliminated. Though campus police were called to defuse the situation, Kimbrough insisted his actions weren’t intended as a threat. “It was fun. It was entertaining,” he said.

In his case, D.A. 
doesn’t just stand for “District Attorney”

Fort Bend County DA John Healey explained that Richard Mendoza Jr., the chief suspect in a 2002 murder, was temporarily released from jail because the prosecutor’s office failed to seek an indictment within ninety days of his arrest.

On the other 
hand, he’ll offer 
a “No comment” 
free of charge

Asked for an interview by the editor of the campus paper, San Antonio College student life director Jorge Posadas 
requested a fee for acting as “a professional source on 
the subject of student affairs.”

To our knowledge, Mr. Kimbrough did not get the job

San Antonio Crime Stoppers offered a reward for a man who dropped by a Jack in the Box restaurant for a job application, then returned twenty minutes later and robbed the place at knifepoint.

Yes, I’m looking 
for section “B,” row 
“Um Steer”

Just before the Super Bowl, the Arlington Fire Department declared a temporary stairwell in Cowboys Stadium unsafe, forcing about eight hundred ticket holders to move to other seats and denying entry altogether to another four hundred or so. The latter were offered refunds of three times their ticket’s face value—a small fraction of what some had paid scalpers.

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