The 2000 Bum Steer Awards

Who isn’t sick of the m-word? The approach of the you-know-what accounted for at least two thousand Texan examples of countdown craziness. Bracing for a Y2K melee, we not only hoarded precious metals and stockpiled food and guns but—in a particularly Texan twist—bought (and stole) a record number of windmills out of fear that basic services would crash. Crashes of a different sort accelerated the madness: In Dallas three intersections made the list of the nation’s ten most dangerous for traffic accidents; in Austin a truck driver narrowly missed hitting George W. Bush, who was out for a jog, and nearly ended the governor’s presidential campaign.

And speaking of ends, there was the much-ballyhooed backside of actor and sometime Austinite Matthew McConaughey. With time to kill in the wee hours of an October morning, the divine Mr. M decided to dance to the beat of his own bongos (and his own bong) while clad only in a bandanna bearing the logo of his beloved alma mater, the University of Texas. After a call from an annoyed neighbor, the cops butted in and arrested the em-bare-assed actor, who eventually paid a $50 fine for violating the city’s noise ordinance. A crack publicist couldn’t have gotten more exposure for the cheeky thespian—and we couldn’t have drummed up a better candidate for Bum Steer of the Year.

Reports of Their Death Were Only Slightly Exaggerated
Nearly all of the City of Dallas’ 13,000 employees received 1998 federal wage and tax statements listing them as deceased.

Till Fumbles Do Us Part
Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams posed for the cover of ESPN’s magazine as a bride in a white wedding gown next to his new coach, the New Orleans Saints’ Mike Ditka.

$100 for Burgers, And $42,000 for Her Legal Fees
During an online auction to benefit Oprah Winfrey’s favorite charities, James Halperin, a Dallas rare-coin dealer, paid $10,100 for two backstage passes to her TV talk show, $6,550 to go to a yoga class with her, and $42,100 to have lunch with her.

Sure. Can You Wait Until the First Debate?
Vice President Al Gore, seeking contributions for his presidential race, sent a fundraising letter to George W. Bush that said, “To win in 2000, I need you by my side.”

Watch Out for the Roman Soldier Balloon
At the Christian Hot-Air Balloon Glow near Groom, Bob Sheible of the Merit Ministry of California inflated and floated a 110-foot-high figure of Jesus.

He Was Just Parking
Neil Richmond, the principal of Midland High School, suspended senior Casey Riggan and placed him in an alternative school because Riggan refused to write a letter of apology after he and a group of friends photographed Richmond’s car while it was sitting in front of a female teacher’s house on a Saturday afternoon.

Coming Next Year: Frankenstein: The Campaigning and the Losing
San Antonio city councilman Mario Salas wrote a sequel to the horror classic by Mary Shelley, which he titled Frankenstein: The Dawning and the Passing.

But It Was a Breathtaking Billboard
Scenic Dallas, a nonprofit anti-billboard organization dedicated to the enhancement and preservation of the city’s visual environment, undertook a campaign to eliminate billboards in the city by placing its slogan—“Nothing is more beautiful than a breathtaking view”—on a billboard.

Everything Farther South Had Already Been Fixed
For the first time in the history of the Miss Texas Pageant, officials required all competitors to fix their own hair.

Yeah, Right
A story about George W. Bush’s advisers on national issues that appeared in the New York Times contained the sentence, “There may never have been a ‘serious’ candidate who needed it more.” In a subsequent issue of the paper, the Times explained that the “opinionated sentence” was really a private message between editors that had inadvertently slipped into the story.

Oliver Stone Wants One on the Grassy Knoll
Dallas’ Sixth Floor Museum, housed in the former Texas School Book Depository, installed a camera in its southeast window to allow users of their Internet site to duplicate the view of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

Wait Till Next Millennium
By winning only 246 games while losing 541, for a percentage of .313, the Dallas Mavericks compiled the worst record of any professional sports team in the nineties.

A Switchblade Is Cheaper
The Texas Attorney General’s office received a $90,720 grant from the governor’s Criminal Justice Division to purchase laser surgery equipment to remove tattoos from former gang members.

Mistake? What Mistake?
The Houston Chronicle mistakenly translated into Spanish “Together We Can,” the theme of George W. Bush’s inauguration for his second term as governor, not as “ Juntos Podemos,” which is correct, but as “ Juntos Pedemos,” which means “Together we fart.”

You Can’t Be Too Careful About What Santa Anna Might Be Up to These Days
A Cameron County beach cleanup crew hauled away as trash what historians believe was the wreckage of the Moctezuma, a Mexican gunboat sunk off the Texas coast in 1842.

The Charge Was BigBigBigBigBigBigBigBigBigamy
Ben Villar, the police chief of Fulshear, was charged with bigamy and indicted by a Fort Bend County grand jury after officials mistakenly mailed his license from a 1998 marriage to his wife of eight years, who discovered she was one of ten women Villar had wed since 1966.

Unfortunately, Male Ocelots Prefer Brut
Researchers at the Dallas Zoo conducting an experiment in how cats react to odors reported that the zoo’s four female ocelots responded most erotically to the scent of Calvin Klein Obsession perfume.

We Want to See Their Hoses
Several Dallas firefighters appeared in national print ads for Jockey underwear with their pants around their ankles, displaying a variety of boxers and briefs.

Relatives Are Not Eligible to Win
After George W. Bush received the most votes ever—7,418— in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll, he announced that “we shattered every record” for the event. In fact, his percentage of the total vote (31 percent) and margin of victory (10.5 percentage points) fell short of the all-time records, which were set in 1979—by his father.

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