See Kinky Run

How's my semi-serious, nontraditional, not-entirely-implausible campaign for governor going? Glad you asked.

MANY MOONS AGO I WROTE a rather whimsical column about the possibility of my running for—or more accurately, taking a leisurely stroll toward—the high and mighty office of governor of Texas ("Oaf of Office," March 2003). There have been a number of interesting developments since then, and not all of them have transpired entirely within the febrile confines of my gray-matter department. There actually does seem to be genuine support for my candidacy. A good bit of it, unfortunately, appears to be emanating from the Bandera Home for the Bewildered.

In Washington last October, the president himself promised me that if I ran, he would be my "one-man focus group." During the same White House visit, I had a cordial meeting in a hallway with Colin Powell and later found myself in the men's room with Donald Rumsfeld. Though neither man offered to help with my campaign, I did mention to Rummy that he was not the most famous person I'd ever wee-wee'd next to. The most famous, I told him, was Groucho Marx. Rummy told me he couldn't touch that one but that his wife had once danced with Jimmy Durante.

A few weeks later, at the Texas Book Festival, my campaign won the support of Molly Ivins after she asked me point-blank why I was running. "Why the hell not?" I replied. "Beautiful," she said. " That's your campaign slogan." Any candidate for governor who has the support of both George W. and Molly can't be all bad.

Texas, as Molly pointed out, has a tradition of singing governors. I thought back to Pappy O'Daniel's successful race for that esteemed office in the forties. He had a band called the Light Crust Doughboys. I had a band called the Texas Jewboys. His slogan was "Pass the biscuits, Pappy." One of my most popular songs is "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven (And Your Buns in the Bed)." The parallels are uncanny.

Thus, with George and Molly aboard, I felt empowered enough to do an interview with the Kerrville Daily Times, break the news to my friend U.S. congressman Lamar Smith, and green-light a first printing of bumper stickers that read "He ain't Kinky. He's my governor." The Kerrville paper trumpeted my interview on page one, the bumper stickers proliferated throughout the Hill Country faster than jackrabbits, and Lamar suggested that the race, quixotic as it might seem, would be a no-lose proposition. "You'll come out of this," he predicted, "with a book, a wife, or the governorship." I don't want a wife, I told him. I'm already married to Texas.

It was around this time that some people began asking me if the whole thing was a joke. For some reason this rankled me more than I'd expected. I'd always seen myself, in the words of Billy Joe Shaver, as a serious soul nobody took seriously. Why should they take me seriously now? But I wasn't about to retire in a petulant snit to a goat farm for sixteen years. I would tell them the truth with humor, for humor always sails dangerously close to the truth. Some things are too important to be taken seriously, I told them. The question, I added, is whether my candidacy is a joke or whether the current crop of politicians is the joke.

But there was a time in late November when I didn't have such a positive attitude. I paced back and forth in my log cabin, wondering if I was bound for the Governor's Mansion or the mental hospital. I was so uncertain of my chances at that dark time that if I'd been elected, I would have demanded a recount. Did I dare dream the impossible dream? Go for the long shot? Then the phone rang. The caller said he was from the Times. "That was some interview you guys did," I said. "What interview?" asked the guy. "Isn't this the Kerrville Times ?" I asked. "No," he said. "It's the New York Times ."

The Times story, headlined "Guess Who Wants to Be Governor," ran on Saturday, November 29, a day that will live in infamy in the minds of those who wish to perpetuate the politics of the status quo. The switchboard at the ranch lit up like a Christmas tree in Las Vegas. Fielding the congratulatory calls and offers of support was a daunting task, but I tried to be as gracious as possible. I told them all I'd get back to them in about two years.

But the calls kept coming. My old pal Tom Waits offered to come down and help the campaign, as did Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, Jim Nabors, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lily Tomlin, and Johnny Depp. In addition to this galaxy of stars, Penn and Teller, the Las Vegas magicians, promised to come to Texas and "make the opposition disappear." Meanwhile, Craven and Nancy Green, the parents of a struggling young songwriter named Pat Green, came up to the ranch from Waco. They brought with them the Sunday Waco Tribune-Herald, which had carried the New York Times story. "It's on page one," they said excitedly, but they seemed a bit hesitant to show me. After some badgering, I got them to hand me the paper. The story was there, all right, but the Waco editors had changed the headline to read "Uncouth Hopeful Eyes Governorship." The campaign was already getting personal.

So what kind of governor would I be? When I was in Washington, George W. asked me what my platform was. I didn't really have an answer at the time, but I've had a chance to think it over. Next time I see him, this is what I'll say: "My platform, Mr. President, is that I'm not a politician. My platform is that I'm not a bureaucrat. My platform is that I'm a writer of fiction who speaks the truth. My platform is to fight the wussification of this great state, to rise

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