The Best Bum Steers. Ever.

We published the first Bum Steer Awards in January 1974, and we haven’t missed a year since. We pored over all 32 installments—and more than 2,500 items—to come up with… the BEST BUM STEERS. EVER.

January 2006By Comments

1974
BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS FLORAL BOUQUET

To Janey Briscoe for her statement to the housewife whose Plainview home had been completely devastated by a tornado. Standing outside gazing at the only standing features, a chimney and a potted plant holding a wilted pansy, Mrs. Briscoe said: “I think you’ve been watering this too much.”

1975
IN YOUR HEARTBURN YOU KNOW HE’S WRONG

“A Texan doesn’t know his chili from leavings in a corral,” according to Arizona senator Barry Goldwater.

1976
WILL THE DEFENDANT PLEASE RISE AND FACE THE JURY

Galveston jurors convicted Jesse Ray Owens of aggravated rape after he dropped his trousers in the courtroom as part of his defense. The woman who claimed Owens was her attacker said his only unusual physical characteristic was a small penis.

1977
NOW WE KNOW. THE AGGIES REALLY CAN’T TELL IT FROM SHINOLA

Texas A&M University, which offers courses on the operation of sewage plants, was cited by the Texas Water Quality Board for discharging effluents into nearby Shinola Creek.

1978
AT LEAST HE DIDN’T SHOW THEM WHERE MOMMY WAS BURIED

A Fort Hood soldier, stopped for a traffic violation, was talking with officers when his three-year-old son produced a .38-caliber revolver and told police, “My daddy has a gun just like yours.” Then, pointing to a paper sack, he added, “He keeps his dope right there.”

1979
HINT: THE FATAL BULLET STRUCK THE BACK OF MY NECK, EXITED THROUGH MY THROAT, AND LODGED IN GOVERNOR JOHN CONNALLY’S ARM

A news quiz in the San Antonio Light posed this question for history buffs: “I succeeded Dwight D. Eisenhower as president of the United States in 1961. Documents recently released by the FBI show that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, assassinated me in Dallas in 1963. What is my name?”

1980
I MEAN LEAVE US A LOAN

Fort Worth oilman Eddie Chiles, whose radio and TV commercials demanded that the government “leave us alone,” has received $115 million in federally guaranteed loans for six offshore drilling rigs.

1981
ANOTHER $10,967,000,000 AND 13,958 MONTHS AND HE’D BE PRESIDENT

John Connally spent $11 million and campaigned for president for fourteen months to win exactly 1 of the 998 delegates needed for the Republican nomination.

1982
THEN STOP RECRUITING OUR FOOTBALL PLAYERS

Oklahoma public health officials blamed Texas for a 100 percent increase in syphilis cases.

1983
WHERE IS JOHN WAYNE WHEN YOU REALLY NEED HIM?

The San Antonio City Council banned future performances in the city by rock singer Ozzy Osbourne after he was arrested for urinating on the Alamo wall.

1984
“I KNOW,” THE GOVERNOR RESPONDED

Governor Mark White extolled the virtues of Wichita Falls to a visiting chamber of commerce delegation. At the end of the speech, one delegate protested, “But we’re from Sherman.”

1985
STEALERS 6, OILERS 0

Jim Whitworth parked his car in downtown Houston and left two Houston Oilers tickets under the windshield wiper for anyone to take. When he returned, under the windshield wiper were four more Oilers tickets.

1986
SIT DOWN, GIB, SO YOU CAN’T BE

House Speaker Gib Lewis asked a group of handicapped visitors in wheelchairs to “please stand up and be recognized.”

1987
IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED, TRY, TRY AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN. THEN CALL MISSISSIPPI

After the Texas Army National Guard failed in 26 attempts to place a new statue of the Goddess of Liberty atop the Texas capitol, the Mississippi Army National Guard was called in to help and succeeded on its first try.

1988
MAYBE SHE WAS TRYING TO TURN HERSELF IN

A seventy-year-old Lubbock woman was charged with DWI after she crashed her pickup into a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission building.

1989
SEPTEMBER 7, 1988, A DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN IDIOCY

On September 7 George H. W. Bush told an American Legion convention, “Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Forty-seven years ago today we were hit, and hit hard, at Pearl Harbor.” The attack on Pearl Harbor came on December 7.

1990
THANK GOD FOR PINE BLUFF, ARKANSAS

The new edition of the Places Rated Almanac evaluated 333 cities to determine which were the most livable places in America. Odessa finished 332nd.

1991
NOT THIS 39 YEARS, DEAR, I’VE GOT A HEADACHE

Amanda Nicole McVay became the first baby born in Loving County since 1951.

1992
NEVER MIND THE EXPLANATION. WHAT 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.

1993
YOU’VE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE, JOSE

Commenting on his trade from the Oakland A’s to the Texas Rangers, Jose Canseco said, “It’s more relaxed here. It’s an atmosphere I can relate to. In Oakland it was always win, win, win—and you get fed up with it.”

1994
P.S. BON VOYAGE

State district judge Charles J. Hearn, of Houston, sent death row inmate Robert Drew a letter informing him of the date for his execution and added a happy face after his signature.

1995
THE EYES OF PINOCHET ARE UPON YOU

Potter County officials in Amarillo mistakenly flew the Chilean flag over the courthouse instead of the Texas flag.

1996
AND IF IT WERE IN DEMAND, WE’D USE A STRAW MUSHROOM

Women readers of Houston Life magazine protested a doctor’s ad touting breast-reduction surgery that featured a pair of pendulous eggplants. One caller asked why the magazine didn’t have an ad using a cucumber for a penis, to which magazine spokesman Charles Eldred replied, “We would, but penis reduction isn’t in great demand.”

1997
WHAT’S BASELESS ABOUT IT?

Rating Texas as the most annoying state in the country, New York—based SPY magazine wrote, “Texas may not be the worst place in the country (that title belongs to the District of Columbia . . .), but like the vulgar, free-wheeling yahoos that reside there, the former Lone Star Republic is bigger, louder, and full of more baseless braggadocio than any other state.”

1998
HOW ABOUT “WE’RE NOT TEXAS TECH”?

The University of Texas announced that its slogan for a $1 billion fund-raising campaign, which was developed by GSD&M, of Austin, was “We’re Texas”—only to discover that five months earlier, Texas Tech University had adopted “We’re Texas Tech.”

1999
YOU MAY ALREADY BE A LOSER

Six Tyler-area residents, clutching sweepstakes letters promising prizes such as Jet Skis and motorcycles, showed up at the city convention center to claim their winnings, only to find themselves arrested in a sting operation when their lucky claim numbers turned out to be the numbers on their outstanding felony warrants.

2000
MISTAKE? WHAT MISTAKE?

The Houston Chronicle mistakenly translated into Spanish “Together We Can,” the theme of George W. Bush’s inauguration for his second term as governor, not as “Juntos Podemos,” which is correct, but as “Juntos Pedemos,” which means “Together we fart.”

2001
NO RUNS, NO HITS, ONE ERROR

Texas Monthly declared that New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, who lives in Houston, is “losing his edge.” Two months later the Yankees won the American League Championship Series and the World Series, in large part because Clemens allowed no runs and struck out 24 in two games.

2002
“AND I PROMISE THIS TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: E ILL IN THE AR ON TERRORISM”

To annoy the incoming staff of President George W. Bush, departing workers in the Clinton White House removed the W key from several of the White House’s computer keyboards.

2003
“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.

2004
IT’S ABOUT TIME

In the upcoming film Man of the House, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Rick Perry plays the Texas governor.

2005
SHE FELT THAT NO CHILD SHOULD LEAVE BEHIND WHAT’S LEFT THE BEHIND OF THE CHILD

A teacher at Dallas’s Gabe P. Allen Elementary School was placed on administrative leave because, after a first-grader soiled the classroom floor, she sent him home with the feces in his backpack.

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