1999 Bum Steer Awards

Some years make you see red, but 1998 was the year for the color purple. You couldn’t turn on the television without being bombarded by the purple dinosaur named Barney or the purple prose of Kenneth Starr’s report. Barney gave a whole new meaning to the term “purple dinosaur suit” when his Richardson-based handlers went to court to stop some seven hundred costume shops in twenty states from renting out generic purple dinosaur costumes. They also sued the Famous San Diego Chicken for bashing a hapless Barney look-alike in one of his skits; Barney was ordered to pay the chicken’s attorneys’ fees of $179,665.92. But that was chicken feed compared with the $40 million cost of independent counsel Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton. The controversy over the Vernon native’s sexually explicit report almost cost the Republicans their majority in Congress and made Newt Gingrich extinct. If only Barney were too. Till then, he and Ken Starr share the distinction of being our Bum Steer of the Year, an award of the purple, by the purple, and for the purple.

Après Crédit Foncier de France, le Déluge
Gaullist members of the Paris, France, city council protested upon hearing reports that state-owned Crédit Foncier de France, which has a large stake in the company that operates the Eiffel Tower, was being considered for purchase by a group including Fort Worth’s Bass brothers.

Would the Bass Brothers Care to Make an Offer?
The City of Paris, Texas, topped its 65-foot model of the Eiffel Tower with a giant red cowboy hat.

What We Want to Know Is, Did He Leave a Forwarding Address?
At an April lecture Fort Worth painter Glenda Green told an Austin audience that Jesus posed for her for almost four months in 1992.

It Was an Embalmy Mourning. A Thief Had Ignored the “Do Not Inter” Sign and Committed a Grave Offense. Every Body Was a Suspect. The Owner Was Ready to R.I.P. His Hair Out. “Don’t Blow a Casket,” Said the Investigating Officer. “This Is a Stiff Challenge. I’ll Leave No Tombstone Unturned and Go Over Every Clue With a Fine-Toothed Catacomb. You Gotta Bereave.” But the Truth Hearse. This Crime Was Worthy Of Professor Mortuary. There Was No Corpse Delicti. At Last the Cops Found Footprints In the Rosary Garden. When the Suspect Was Confronted, He Said, “I Want My Mummy.” The Cops Read Him His Rites. “You Can Run,” They Told Him, “But You Can’t Formaldehyde.” Then They Celebrated With a Bier.
Michael Brock of Lubbock was arrested and charged with burglary after three empty caskets disappeared from a funeral home where he had once been employed.

Mad-Cowman’s Disease Can Be Even Worse
Paul Engler of Amarillo and other cattlemen lost their case against talk show host Oprah Winfrey, whom they sued under a state law prohibiting libelous remarks about agricultural products after she declared that she had stopped eating hamburgers because of fear of mad-cow disease.

The Bible Doesn’t Say Honor Thy Mother And Thy Mother
Baptist pastor Roger Jeffress of Wichita Falls wrote a $54 check to the city’s library to cover the cost of not returning two children’s books about gay and lesbian parents, Daddy’s Roommate and Heather Has Two Mommies.

Heather Has 230 Readers
After Baptist pastor Roger Jeffress caused two books about gay and lesbian parents to be taken out of circulation at the Wichita Falls public library, library patrons donated 23 new copies of each book, each of which soon had a waiting list of at least ten readers.

Would That Be “Stephen N. Hale?”
Two weeks before the November election, Stephen Hale, the Democratic candidate for Denton County district attorney, pleaded guilty to felony delivery of marijuana.

The Deal Fell Through Without an Endorsement From Rin-Tin-10
Magnolia Media Group of Fort Worth sued actress Bo Derek for breaking a promise to use the company to promote a new line of pet-care products.

Today Odessa, Tomorrow the World
The German Luftwaffe, whose pilots receive low-level flight training from the U.S. Air Force over the Permian Basin area of West Texas, responded to a lawsuit by area ranchers, who claimed that the missions endangered people and livestock, by asserting that the United States has no jurisdiction over it.

They Should Have Sent It Via Federal Espresso
Attendants forAmerican Air-lines, after makingcoffee on a Colombia-to-Miamirun, noticed that thebrew didn’t look right and discoveredthat smugglers had concealed fifteen pounds of heroin in coffee packets.

How About a Monument To the Know-nothings?
Some 650 citizens signed a petition objecting to plans to install in a Comfort park a historical marker honoring the freethinkers who founded the town before the Civil War, protesting that the marker was essentially a “monument to atheism.”

Don’t Let the Red River Bridge Hit You on The Way Out
After the Dallas Cowboys chose Wichita Falls as the new location for their training camp, Ronald J. Mertens, the head of the Wichita Falls Board of Commerce and Industry, observed, “If we were twenty-five or thirty miles north of here, we would be the third-biggest city in Oklahoma.”

He Left His Heart In Mi Tierra
The New York–based publisher for Texas mystery novelist Jay Brandon noted in itscatalog that the writer “lives in San Antonio, CA.”

They Were Working on a Social Studies Project About Impeachment
While their English teacher was out of the room taking a phone call, a fifteen-year-old girl and sixteen-year-old boy at Moody High School demonstrated oral sex to their classmates.

The Prickly Pear Emissions Are Off the Chart
A headline in the Midland Reporter-Telegram about pollution in Big Bend read “Vegetation Responsible for Smog in Big Bend National Park, Study Says.” The only “vegetation” mentioned in the story was coal-fired electricity plants.

All the Patrons Want to Inspect Her Identification
A federal judge upheld a Houston ordinance that requires nude dancers at adult nightclubs to wear an official city license tag.

You Must Be Looking For Toby Badman
The Texas attorney general’s office, which has frequently

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