The 1990 Bum Steer Awards

The first Bum Steer of the year was a big one—1,100 pounds, to be exact. The grand champion steer of the 1988 State Fair of Texas turned out to be bum in January 1989, when its carcass flunked a drug test. It had to be condemned. But it had lots of other Bum Steers for company.

Texas politicians were getting condemned, too. John Tower was rejected as Secretary of Defense. Jim Wright resigned as Speaker of the House. Henry Cisneros abdicated as emperor of San Antonio. The Texas Highway Commission gave up on plans to adorn Texas license plates with the slogan “The Friendship State.” How about “Freeze a Yankee”? And in the state capitol, East Texas chicken magnate Bo Pilgrim waved $10,000 checks at eight state senators during a heated fight over workers’ compensation.

A lot of Texans could have used the money. Preston Smith, for one. He followed John Connally into the Governor’s Mansion twenty years ago, and he followed Connally into bankruptcy last September. MBank followed all those other Texas banks into oblivion. The Astros wouldn’t pay Nolan Ryan, and he followed Interstate 45 to the Rangers. And don’t forget the bankrupt Hunt brothers, Herbert and Bunker. They inherited the fortune of the richest man in the world, H. L. Hunt, and squandered everything but their homesteads and personal possessions.

And the Bum Steer of the Year… who else but our newest corporate resident, Exxon? When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, causing the biggest oil spill in history, Exxon was headquartered in New York—beyond the reach of Bum Steers. Then, glory be, the company announced that it was moving into our jurisdiction. So welcome to Texas, fellas. You got here just in time.

They Put a Tiger in Their Tanker
Although Joseph Hazelwood had one DWI conviction and his driver’s license had been suspended twice, Exxon made him the captain of the Exxon Valdez.

Give or Take 240 Years
Exxon and its partners in the seven-company consortium that runs the Alaska pipeline estimated that a Valdez-size oil spill could happen only once every 241 years.

This Must Be the Place
A CBS-TV film crew, shortly after arriving in Fort Worth to report on a robbery, was robbed of a $30,000 camera.

Donald Trump and Frank Lorenzo confronting each other at a Nellie Connally bash.

He Was Looking for A Short Cut
Carrollton police arrested David James White for bank robbery after he ran into a barbershop during his getaway and got a haircut—even though he is almost bald.

Didn’t You Get Suspicious When The Main Course Was Pork?
One week after Governor Bill Clements urged that agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower be impeached for charging $7,000 in meals to a federal grant program, Clements confessed that he had eaten at one of the luncheons.

Hold the Celery and the Hard-boiled Eggs
Bounty of the Sea, Inc., in Sugar Land, announced that it has developed a hot dog made of tuna.

Oh, Shut Up
After the Senate rejected John Tower’s nomination for Secretary of Defense, New York Times columnist Russell Baker wrote: “Of course it was good to see a Texan booted away from the Federal trough for once. You don’t often get Texas’s snout out of that sweet-smelling, ever-loving, money-packed trough, not with all those key Government offices in Texas custody. Why Texans are uniquely qualified to run the country when they can’t even run a savings and loan association is a mystery, but it is a rare season that doesn’t find them occupying catbird seats all over Washington….”

The Marines Are Looking For a Few Good Saguaros
Relying on a quip by Phil Gramm’s press secretary, the AP erroneously reported that the Texas National Guard had received a grant to fight drug smuggling by disguising its members as cactus plants.

Readin’, Writin’, and … What’s The Other One?
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Rains issued his ten-point plan to reform education. It contained only nine points.

On Second Thought, He’s Innocent
Wes Hocker of Houston, after serving as the foreman of the jury that found John Charles Zimmerman guilty of capital murder, agreed to serve as Zimmerman’s attorney in a new trial after the conviction was overturned on appeal.

You Know the Old Saying: One Writer, One Ranger
The City of Waco contributed $100,000 to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum for a wing that will recognize the work of James Michener.

Some Folks Never Learn
More than four thousand Texans attended two auctions held by the Federal Saving and Loan Insurance Corporation in Dallas, featuring art, furniture, and other assets once purchased by high-flying Texas S&L executives. Buyers paid more than $1.1 million for items valued at no more that $625,000.

They Weren’t Really Bad. There were Just Boared
A pack of about a hundred wild pigs preyed on an area around Lake Lavon, north of Dallas, attacking humans, killing dogs and chickens, destroying gardens, and knocking over barbeque grills and picnic tables.

They’re Both Right
After Bishop Rene Gracida of Corpus Christi saw a Pepsi commercial on MTV featuring Madonna singing “Like a Prayer,” he declared the commercial sacrilegious and urged Catholics not to buy Pepsico products. Madonna’s press agent responded, “He should stop watching MTV.”

The Quaker Oats Company and Attorney General Jim Mattox sued each other over whether oats help fight cholesterol.

He Campaigned on a Platform Of Raising Test Scores
One month after being elected to the Joshua school board at the age of eighteen, Larry Marlar admitted that he had removed a physics test from a file

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...