1989 Bum Steer Awards!

Will the eighties never end? It has been a decade good only for Bum Steers. To add insult to injury, 1988 was a leap year. Isn’t 365 days long enough to suffer?

This was the year that Lloyd Bentsen, of all people, became a folk hero. But he would rather have been vice president. Oil prices went down, and bank failures went up. There were other notable failures as well: Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk, shut down in Fort Worth. The Bluebonnet Bowl expired in Houston. Dallas lost a police chief, a rail-transit plan, and its confidence. But there was some good news. Texas got the supercollider and Sematech. San Antonio discovered Shamu, a baby Shamu, and Sea World mania. And Billy Bob’s reopened.

Of all the Texans who had bad years, our Bum Steer of the Year seemed to epitomize the whole miserable mess. Seldom has anyone had so many chickens come home to roost all at once. Meet the man who engineered the disastrous bank merger between InterFirst and Republic (the merged bank was declared insolvent and sold to North Carolina National Bank)… the man who bought the Dallas Cowboys just as they began their great collapse (he tried to sell them but couldn’t find a buyer)… the man who brought football coach Jackie Sherrill to Texas A&M (the NCAA placed the Aggies on probation, and Sherrill was in more hot water as the year ended). He even comes with the right nickname. Ladies and gentlemen, meet H. R. “Bum” Bright.

Cursed Are the Meek, For They Shall Inherit John Jacobs
As part of a trend called “radical Christianity,” John Jacobs’ Evangelistic Association of Garland organized the Power Team, which performs feats of strength before Jacobs’ sermons. “ Rocky was just a movie, but there was a real Rocky who lived the greatest comeback there ever was,” preaches the six-three three-hundred pounder. “He went down to hell and said, ‘I am a champion. I paid the price for all time.’ Now that’s real.”

It Cleans Your House And Your Record
A Houston patrolman was suspended for offering to tear up a traffic ticket if the motorist he had stopped would buy the officer’s Amway products.

That’s Why There Was The Great Chicago Fire
New KTRK-TV business manager John Jancar asked Houston firefighters to pump 40,000 gallons of water into the TV station’s swimming pool. When firefighters complained about the special treatment, Jancar said that he had just moved to Houston from Chicago, where such service was standard.

You Can Always Find Them at Stupid Lectures
Ashok Kushalani, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, gave a public lecture on the subject “Nerds: A Psychological Portrait.”

Keep the Change
Marshal Fink of Austin persuaded a Los Angeles cabbie to drive him 1,350 miles to Texas and then paid the fare with a $1,000 hot check.

Too Bad They Were False Alarms
Houston radio station KZFX’s “Still Smokin’” promotional billboards, which puffed real smoke, had to be deactivated after ten passers-by called in fire reports.

The Case for Planned Parenthood
Judge John McKellips of El Paso lost his race for reelection after his six children endorsed his opponent.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do
After filing for bankruptcy, John Connally became a pitchman for University Savings in Houston. His message: “Nellie and I worked hard all of our lives to make sure our future would be financially secure. Well, the future is here, and things haven’t quite worked out like we’d planned. But that’s all right because there’s no better place than Texas to start over and to save a little.”

Desperate for a Slurpee
A Houston convenience store patron returned to his car and found a three-foot alligator in the front seat.

Next Time, Try Earplugs
In an effort to reduce distracting noises at concerts, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra provided patrons with complimentary Halls cough suppressant lozenges.

Other Than That, He Did a Hell of a Job
First City Bancorporation disclosed that it gave chairman Daniel Arnold an $8,750 raise in 1987, a year during which the company lost $1.13 billion.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice
A chicken belonging to ten-year-old Delbert Warren, Jr., of Zavalla has four legs.

A Heap o’ Thanks, Ma’am, But We Don’t Want None
Diction teacher Margo Manning of Dallas ran newspaper ads headlined IS YOUR TEXAS SHOWING? and for $225 offered to remove the twang of native Texas accents.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Part I
A seventeen-year-old boy identified himself as a Williamson County sheriff’s deputy, entered a motel lobby, and told the clerk he was part of a team working on prostitution. The teenager demanded a free room and called an escort service from the motel lobby.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Part II
When the escort arrived at the teenager’s room, the youth told her she was under arrest for prostitution—but he would let her go if she would have sex with him. He handcuffed the escort in the bathroom. Then the desk clerk showed up to insist on payment. The teenager argued unsuccessfully and left with his escort.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Part III
After taking the escort to two more motels but failing to get a free room, the teenager went to a fourth motel and paid for a room, where he and the escort had sex.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Part IV
The escort called home and reported the incident to her boyfriend, who went looking for the teenager, found him at a gas station, and took his gun belt and briefcase. The teenager reported the theft to the Austin police, who arrested the escort and her boyfriend.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Conclusion
The escort and her boyfriend were released after the police heard their story. The teenager went to the police station to claim his property. He was promptly arrested.

Thy Cheeks Are Black As Onyx and

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