The 2010 Bum Steer Awards

Are we there yet? Did we make it? Is it finally 2010? Thank God that’s over. Nothing was fine in 2009. The drought was hot; the economy was not. Oil prices sank, and Congress bailed out the banks. Unemployment went up, and Sir Allen Stanford went down. Jerry Jones spent a billion dollars on a football stadium, but no one would pay to put their name on it. Tom Craddick got the boot, Boone Pickens lost some loot, and the eighty-first legislative session bore no fruit. Rick Perry talked about secession, while Kay Bailey Hutchison dreamed about succession. Tea parties were the rage, literally.

Frankly, we were worried. Could such a depressingly serious season produce a worthy Bum Steer? Whose foolish antics would rescue us from the somber newscasts and grim headlines? Just when we had lost all hope, he arrived, tripping the light fantastic, and sometimes just plain tripping. Yes, folks, it was the return of the Hammer, the Exterminator, the Baryshnikov of Bug Men, the Gene Kelly of disgraced House majority leaders, Tom DeLay, lunging across our television screens in the ninth season of Dancing With the Stars.

Even before he hit the floor, DeLay was an instantly infamous celebrity, the subject of a million giddy blog posts. We howled when he grimaced to the grinding guitar of “Wild Thing”; we gasped when he squeezed into that hideous glittery brown outfit; we covered the children’s eyes when the camera drew uncomfortably close to his derriere as he thrust it awkwardly from side to side. His were the buns that launched a thousand puns.

And then, disaster! Just as we had begun to recall the joy of ridiculing something other than the Friday morning jobs report, DeLay was gone. Stress fractures in both feet brought on by a pair of “Latin shoes with high heels” knocked Hot Tub Tom off the show. He may not have been tops in ABC’s book (that crown would go to Donny Osmond, another dedicated public servant), but the Hammer had nailed down the biggest honor there is: He’s our 2010 Bum Steer of the Year.

It Forgot to Pack Its Sansabelt Slacks and Florsheim Shoes
New York Times shopping critic Cintra Wilson drew flak for her size-ist review of the grand opening of Plano-based J.C. Penney’s new Manhattan store. In her review, Wilson wondered, “Why would this dowdy Middle American entity waddle into Midtown in its big old shorts and flip-flops?”

All Units, Be Advised: We Have a 36DD in Progress
One Midland County sheriff’s deputy was fired and four others were disciplined for getting drunk and photographing a scantily clad waitress who had posed on a patrol car holding their assault rifle outside a Twin Peaks restaurant in Round Rock where the lawmen had come for a training session.

Challah When You Get a Clue
Austin deli owner Marc Katz arranged a media event so that reporters could watch him file for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary, but he initially led everyone to the wrong state office building. When he finally got to the right office, Katz learned he couldn’t legally file for months.

It Was the Best of Teams, It Was the Worst of Teams
In Dallas, the Covenant School’s girls’ basketball team was criticized for poor sportsmanship following a game against Dallas Academy. Covenant led 59–0 at halftime but still ran a full-court press and shot three-pointers well into the fourth quarter. The final score was 100–0.

Explains Why So Many Convicts Have Been Declining Parole
Inmates at the Segovia Unit, near Edinburg, were startled to discover 25 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a crate of bananas that had been confiscated during a drug stop by the Edinburg Police Department and then given to the prisoners as a gift.

And Neither Do Your Kids
A press release from state representative Debbie Riddle, of Harris County, slamming President Barack Obama’s upcoming speech

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