1985 Bum Steer Awards

Somebody find that fellow Orwell. Isn’t he the one who said 1984 would be a year of ruthless efficiency? Instead it was a year of Bum Steers. Where was Big Brother when we needed him?

Everything seemed to be running in reverse. Clint Murchison sold the Dallas Cowboys for $80 million and still came up short; he was sued for unpaid debts of around $100 million. The Texas Department of Corrections couldn’t correct itself. Educators declared war on education reform. The year’s most celebrated romantic triangle featured a Houston woman who was the radio voice of Elsie the Cow. And the most vocal student protest occurred at, of all places, SMU and involved, of all people, fraternities. At least it was for a good cause: the boys were stirred up by a ban on booze at their parties.

Sports? The Astros were supposed to contend for the pennant. They didn’t. The Rangers were supposed to be better. They weren’t. The Rockets added Ralph Sampson and still finished last. In one day, Texas, TCU, and Arkansas successively gave away a surefire trip to the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys lost their mystique, and the Oilers just lost. And lost. And lost.

Business? While the rest of the country was going crazy with takeovers, Mesa Petroleum tried to take over Gulf, the Limited tried to take over Carter Hawley Hale, and Coastal States tried to take over Houston Natural Gas. Nothing worked.

But it was left to politics to provide the Bum Steer of the Year—the successor to such worthy champions of the past as Carolyn Farb, Jackie Sherrill, Mike Martin, J.R. Ewing, and Farrah Fawcett. In a year when a sheriff got arrested for dealing pot, when Billie Sole Estes said LBJ was a crook, when Dallas pulled out all the stops for the most boring political convention since the Whigs went out of business, one man stood out below all the rest. He started the year near the top and went straight downhill. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting George Bush.

YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER, BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE HIM THINK
Because you were a Texan, George, we were willing to overlook the publication of your dog’s memoirs, C. Fred’s Story, by C. Fred Bush.

Because you were a Texan, we tried to forget that during your debate with Geraldine Ferraro you said, “I’d sure like to use the time to talk about the World Series or something of that nature.”

Because you were a Texan, we tried to make allowances the next day when you said, “We tried to kick a little ass last night. Whoops! Oh, God, he heard me. Turn that thing off.”

Because you were a Texan, we were going to ignore your attack on Walter Mondale for saying that U.S. Marines in Lebanon had “died in shame,” when he had not.

Because you were a Texan, we were willing to shut our eyes when you hauled out dictionaries to show that Mondale meant “died in shame” even if he hadn’t actually said it.

Because you were a Texan, we tried to dismiss the Washington Post’s description of you as “the Cliff Barnes of American politics—blustering, opportunistic, craven, and hopelessly ineffective all at once.”

But then, George, you went and took $123,000 off your taxes on the grounds that your real residence was Kennebunkport, Maine. The IRS didn’t buy it, but we do. Now we know why you spent the whole year acting like a Yankee. Anybody who’d sell his Texanhood for $123,000 deserves to be Bum Steer of the Year.

THAT’S OKAY. THEY DISMANTLED THOSE TOO
When notified that security guards had found a bomb under a sink in Houston’s Federal Building, the police bomb squad quickly arrived to dismantle it. The security guards then said that they had reported finding a bum under the sink.

HE’D HAVE MISSED ANYWAY
With the score tied in the final seconds of a crucial play-off game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks’ Derek Harper, thinking his team was actually ahead, dribbled without shooting while the clock ticked off the last six seconds of the games. The game went into overtime, and the Lakers won.

NO MORE PENCILS, NO MORE BOOKS, NO MORE PREACHER’S DIRTY LOOKS
State education reforms forced the Dallas Independent School District to end its 59-year practice of giving class credit to students who studied the Bible in Sunday School.

DON’T SCHEDULE A NUCLEAR ATTACK DRILL AT:
Stephen F. Austin State University, where seven students were treated for smoke inhalation after school safety officer Carroll Bonnette set off a smoke bomb to make a dormitory fire drill seem realistic.

THEY WERE JUST TRYING TO MAKE A LITTLE MONEY FOR COLLEGE
Four students at Lake View High School in San Angelo used the school print shop to produce counterfeit $20 bills.

IS NEIMAN’S THAT BIG WHITE BUILDING WITH THE DOME ON TOP?
Officials requested that “Washington” be added to the name of Dulles International Airport so that passengers will know they are not in Dallas.

YOURE FROM BIG D/ I HAVE GUESSED/ BY THE GUN YOU PACK/ UNDERNEATH YOUR VEST
For the fifth consecutive year, the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport led the nation in the number of travelers caught carrying concealed guns.

SHE WHIPPET THE TRUCK DOWN THE PEKE. SUDDENLY SOMETHING UPSETTER. THERE WAS A MOMENT OF PURE TERRIER AS ANIMALS RAINED FROM THE SKYE. DINGO! POODLES OF BLOOD EVERYWHERE. “ BY COLLIE, I OUGHT TO BE A RETRIEVER,” SHE SAID IN A HUSKY VOICE, “ BUT INSTEAD I’ LL JUST SAY, ‘ CHOW.’ ”
A woman driving a City of Dallas sanitation truck accidentally hit the dump switch and deposited the carcasses of thirty dead animals onto I-30.

ANY IDIOT CAN SEE THAT IT’S COUNT DRACULA
Procter and Gamble mailed information packets to Texas clergymen in an attempt to refute a persistent rumor that the company is linked to the devil and that the

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...

Most Read

  • Viewed
  • Past:
  • 1 week