The Great Texas Meltdown of 2015 started slowly. In fact, things were looking mighty good for perennial favorites the Dallas Cowboys when they made the playoffs last January, and they could have gone all the way if it hadn’t been for a controversial call by the refs that cost them a game. But then came their current losing season and Jerry Jones’s gauche decision to hire—and keep—accused domestic abuser Greg Hardy. That put the team back in contention for the Bum Steer of the Year, though those things turned out to be more disappointing than funny. No problem, we thought. It’s a Lege year, and the politicians in the pink dome never let us down. Yet despite several high-profile gaffes, no single person emerged as a clear front-runner. This forced us to think outside the box and even consider the New York Times, which laid not one but two cow patties—publishing an excessively fancy “Texas chili” recipe, followed a few months later by the infamous “peas in guacamole” concoction. But in the end, we could only feel sorry for the Gray Lady, who almost took the fun out of “get a rope.”

Then, on April 20, 2015, the Bum Steer gods turned the methane gas on high. The U.S. government announced that Jade Helm 15, a military training exercise, would take place across several states, including Texas. On the same day, Blue Bell issued a full recall of its products after a listeria outbreak sickened at least ten people and was linked to three deaths. At that moment, neither of these events appeared to be steers. Our beloved ice cream company was taking proper precautions. So, too, were our beloved armed forces. But within weeks, there were more Jade Helm conspiracy theories than blades of grass on the grassy knoll. Still, it was Blue Bell’s slowness to respond to a severe food safety concern—and a tone-deaf, rabid consumer base that couldn’t recognize how serious the situation really was—that revealed incompetency of truly Bum Steer proportions. In the end, the Little Creamery in Brenham put its competition in the deep freeze and took home the dubious award.

Later, Gator!

Ignoring emphatic warnings about an alligator in the bayou, Tommie Woodward dived off the dock of an Orange County marina for a 2 a.m. swim, yelling, “F— that alligator!”—and was immediately killed by an eleven-foot alligator.

“We Apologize for Our Goofy”

After the Wichita Falls Police Department accidentally posted a daily incident report stating that “Mickey Mouse” had been arrested, the Wichita Falls Times Record News published a story on the alleged incident that reported that “Mouse was arrested on a charge of burglary of a business, a felony, in the 4700 block of Neta Lane.” Three hours later the paper updated the story with the headline “Police: Mickey Mouse Not Really Busted.”

Grand Theft Autozzzz

Austin police arrested Joshua Paul Schoen after officers spotted a parked car that had recently been reported stolen, took a closer look, and found Schoen asleep in the driver’s seat.

Take the Money and Run Up the Score

The University of North Texas paid $425,000 to Oregon’s Portland State, a school from a smaller division, to play in the Mean Green’s homecoming game. Portland State romped to a 66–7 victory, and within hours UNT head football coach Dan McCarney was fired.

But No Luck—the Wily Tots Kept It on the Brown Low

Two elementary school faculty members in Gustine, trying to determine who had defecated on the gymnasium floor, forced two dozen students to pull down their pants so their underwear could be inspected.

Gun Don’t Kill People, Cured Pork Kills People

Ted Cruz, in a video released in August, cooks bacon wrapped around the barrel of a semiautomatic rifle, claiming, “there are few things I enjoy more than on weekends cooking breakfast with the family. Of course, in Texas, we cook bacon a little differently than most folks.”

“Hullabaloo, Connect! Connect!”

Michael Richardson, a student assistant for the Texas A&M football team, was barred from the field for the second half of the Liberty Bowl after he was seen on national TV hitting West Virginia players who crossed the Aggies’ sideline during play.

Which Made His Next Trip So Convenient

Joseph Allison was arrested in Corpus Christi after cutting off a van in traffic and then pulling behind and tailgating it aggressively, apparently oblivious to the fact that it was a clearly marked police prisoner transport vehicle being driven by a uniformed officer.

Urinal Kinds of Trouble, Jacky

Plumber Jacky Ray Innmon was caught on surveillance video leaving a Houston restaurant men’s room after a urinal flush valve had been stolen. When he was arrested, police fingered Innmon for thefts of urinal flush valves from more than 130 restaurants.

It’s the Universal Language

During his first interview with reporters in which he didn’t use an interpreter, Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, of the Texas Rangers, was asked if his season-ending injury was actually a calculated response to the team’s poor play. He responded, “That’s bullshit.”

She’s 24-Karat Solid Cold

Theresa Green Mireles was arrested for theft from a corpse after pretending to pay her respects at a man’s open-casket wake in Aransas Pass and stealing a gold chain from around his neck.

In Fact, Native Americans Were “Real Estate Givers”

McGraw-Hill said it would revise a textbook approved by the State Board of Education after the mother of a student in Pearland pointed out that the book referred to slaves as “workers.”

Perhaps the Jury Will Take Degree of Difficultly Into Account

Cody Lynn Allen was sentenced to three years in prison after he tried to steal a parked car with its engine running, which turned out to be an unmarked Haltom City police vehicle—with a detective sitting inside.

Maybe Their Locker Room Has Faster Wi-Fi

During a drubbing by the TCU Horned Frogs, Kris Boyd, a freshman on the University of Texas Longhorns football team, retweeted a Texas A&M fan’s request that Boyd transfer and play for the Aggies.

They Say Climate Change Is a Phallus-y

Texas Tech students celebrated a rare Lubbock snowstorm by erecting an eleven-foot-tall snow penis in one of the most visible public spaces on the campus.

Mineral Wells Police: Yeah, LOL, C U Soon

Mineral Wells police arrested Eddie Smith after it was brought to their attention that he had boasted about his outstanding warrants on Facebook.

Career Outlook? No so flamin’ hot

Matthew Lee Newman, a guard at the Bowie County jail, was arrested after he was caught trying to smuggle marijuana into the facility in an open bag of Cheetos.

And Get That Upholstery Cleaned Before You Surrender Your Vehicle!

Officer Ryan Cantu was suspended indefinitely from the Fort Worth Police Department for an assortment of sexual misconduct charges, including having sex with prostitutes in his patrol car while on duty.

Fighting Crime . . . With Crime

San Antonio police officer Konrad Chatys was arrested for felony theft by a public servant after responding to a domestic disturbance call and then stealing the couple’s marijuana, a rifle, and thousands of dollars in cash.

Support America’s Favorite Blastime

Booker Youth League Baseball held a fund-raising raffle for a custom-made AR-15 rifle. 

This Year’s Awards for the Worst Portrayal of Caring Classroom Professionals Goes To . . .

Sulphur Springs ISD teachers Tim Couch and Stephanie Garner handed out “Ghetto Classroom Awards” to their students until a parent’s protest brought the practice to light.

Clothes Really Do Make the Man

Luciano Gutierrez, of Temple, posed for this mug shot following his DWI arrest.

Maybe He Meant “Pull-Up” the Rear

Weeks before he pulled the plug on his presidential campaign, former governor Rick Perry challenged then front-runner Donald Trump to a pull-up contest.

Was She Ready to Party or What?

Waco police arrested Ashley Castaneda after finding nearly thirty grams of methamphetamine in her purse—and a loaded handgun in her vagina.

His Ball’s in Your Court, Doc

A malpractice lawsuit alleged that Dr. Dipen Patel, of Austin, told a UT student that the student had “blue balls” and suggested he go home and masturbate. In fact, the young man was suffering from a condition called testicular torsion, and he ultimately had to have a testicle removed.

So That’s What Gave it That Distinct Colombian Flavor

A San Antonio grandmother found a small baggie of cocaine in an unopened Nature Valley granola bar wrapper.

Not-So-Intelligent Design

In response to a controversial New York Daily News cover in the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick shared a photoshopped version of the image on social media in which he intended to affirm the power of prayer. Unfortunately, the new design misread and led to a backlash of its own.

Next up, “How to Put Beans in Chili With the Governor of Texas”

Barbecue purists heaped scorn on Governor Greg Abbott for saying, in a video called “How to Order Texas Barbecue With the Governor of Texas,” that “the most important thing about barbecue is sauce.”

Oh, Baby

Christien Sechrist, of Houston, posted this photo of his new tattoo in the likeness of his son on Facebook. 

Or Is That the Presbyterians?

Addressing a Methodist clergy member from Houston who was leading a courthouse protest over the Sandra Bland case, Waller County sheriff Glenn Smith said, “Why don’t you go back to the church of Satan that you run?”

You Gotta Know When to Fold ’Em

Timothy Andrew Norris was arrested for criminal trespass after he refused to leave the Wichita County courthouse annex. The chief tax assessor collector determined that Norris was creating a disturbance by paying his property tax bill with hundreds of intricately folded dollar bills, each of which took several minutes to unfold.

“Employee Must Be Physically Able to Thump a Bible”

Williamson County was sued by a man who alleged that county commissioners interviewing him for a constable job questioned him about his views on marriage and abortion and subsequently declined to hire him.

That’s Good for at Least One Knight in Jail

While trying to visit his son, an inmate at the Bexar County jail, Jose Gonzalez was arrested after a security scanner prompted guards to examine his cane, which concealed a two-foot sword.

“You Can Let Go of His Ear Now, Ma’am”

A sixteen-year-old was arrested for stealing an iPad from a two-year-old outside a Houston laundromat after the teen’s mother recognized him in surveillance video of the crime and made him turn himself in.

“Of Course They Did. They Were the Best-Selling Piñatas of All Time. And You Know Why? Because They Were the Best-Made, Best-Looking Piñatas Ever! And They Looked Like Me!”

After Donald Trump’s immigrant-baiting visit to the Texas–Mexico border, piñatas in his likeness became hot sellers. 

So Long, 370H55V

The Texas Department of Motor vehicles canceled Houston resident Safer Hassan’s customized license plate after realizing that when turned upside down the plate spelled out a curse word. 

Things Got a Little Messy in the Kitchen This Year

  • Asparagus Water: Austin-based Whole Foods sold stalks of asparagus in water for $5.99 a bottle.
  • $2,500 Worth of Brisket: James Cordell Avery was arrested on separate occasions in Austin and Round Rock for allegedly stealing brisket from nineteen H-E-B stores. Police said Avery would simply fill his grocery cart full of meat and walk out without paying.
  • Blue Bell Ice Cream: Whoops—there was no ice cream to be had for nearly four months this year when the Brenham-based company had to stop operations because of listeria contamination.
  • The Taco Dog: The Socorro ISD abandoned a new lunch entrée, the “taco dog,” a plain hot dog in a crispy taco shell, after its debut provoked an intensely negative reaction from elementary students.
  • Raw Shrimp: Marc Fantich, of McAllen, was charged with burglary of a vehicle after breaking into his ex-wife’s boyfriend’s Cadillac in the early hours of Valentine’s Day and dumping raw shrimp inside.

No Way That Story Wasn’t Going to Leak

At a Georgetown City Council meeting, Mayor Dale Ross stepped away to use the restroom, unaware that he was still wearing a live wireless microphone. With his fellow council members struggling to maintain decorum, high-quality audio of Ross relieving himself was broadcast over the council chamber’s sound system.

Costly? Sure. But It Was Worth It to Be the First Tweet About a Well-Known Man Using the Telephone in His Own Home

After working at the home of Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin, Rustin McFarland tweeted that he’d seen the coach on the phone and suggested that Sumlin was hiring a new defensive coordinator. Sumlin summarily fired McFarland via a reply tweet.

He Always Loved Her Fiery Personality

Deborah Coffman, of Austin, who was angry with her husband, accidentally burned down their home after she lit one of his shirts on fire.

On a Ritz Cracker With Some Ketchup? Yankee Doodle Dandy!

The New York Times ran a guacamole recipe with green peas listed as an ingredient.

Members of the Jury, the Court Reminds You That You Can’t Convict This Man on the Basis of His Mug Shot Alon

Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is nominally the top law enforcement official in Texas, was indicted for felony fraud. 

Dallasites Were Left Totally Stumped

In Dallas’s White Rock Lake Park, a city contractor mistakenly cut down a 170-year-old black willow tree that was listed in the state registry of champion trees.

We Blame Partisan Division

After Congressman Pete Sessions, of Dallas, complained that a $108 billion expenditure covering 12 million Obamacare recipients would cost $5 million per recipient, the Washington Post pointed out that $108 billion divided by 12 million is only $9,000.

“Please Be Patient—Our Early Birds Are Working on It

Apparently because of a utility company equipment failure, residents of Old River-Winfree found live worms in their tap water.

F You! And You, and You, and You!

Dissatisfied with the behavior and academic performance of students in his strategic management class at Texas A&M University at Galveston, professor Irwin B. Horwitz sent them an email announcing that he was quitting the course, and he threatened to give all thirty of them a failing grade.

Suspect May Be Warmed and Dangerous

Rosenberg Police asked for the public’s help in locating an aggravated robbery suspect pictured in this artist’s sketch. 

“This Is Your Captain Speaking, and I’m Not Saying Who, but Someone in This Cockpit is a Big Jerk!”

After police were called about a “disagreement” between the pilots of a United Express flight out of Lubbock, takeoff was delayed five hours until a replacement flight crew arrived from Houston.

Y’all Need to Chizzil on Deputy Dawg, Feel?

DPS trooper Billy Spears was reprimanded and forced by his bosses to undergo counseling after he posed for a photo with the rapper Snoop Dogg while working security at an Austin music event.

“But Seriously, Folks, Who Names Their Kid ‘Beau’? Heh, Heh”

At a campaign event, Senator Ted Cruz got a raucous reaction to a caustic joke about vice president Joe Biden—three days after the death of Biden’s son. Cruz later apologized for the comment on his Facebook page.

That’s Not the Lance Armstrong We Know

Lance Armstrong’s girlfriend admitted to police in Aspen, Colorado, that the couple had conspired to lie to investigators and say that she had been driving Armstrong’s vehicle and had hit two parked cars. In fact, Armstrong, who had been drinking, was at the wheel and later pleaded guilty to reckless driving.

Come On, Everybody Gets Performance Anxiety

Kim Juzdowski, a language arts teacher at an El Paso high school, indicated her displeasure with a student’s effort by leaving a drawing of male genitalia on his assignment. 

And Maybe Install a Bidet

Officials in Highland Park briefed local contractors on new rules stating that portable toilets on construction sites must either be placed out of public view or be hidden by wooden screens.

Gig ’Em, Bulldogs

Walmart sold maroon-and-white football jerseys that had the Mississippi State logo on the body and the Texas A&M logo on the sleeve. 

Call It the Latest in Metroplexual Fashion

To mark the division championship of the Texas Rangers, whose stadium is in Arlington, Major League Baseball issued a commemorative T-shirt featuring a silhouette of the Dallas skyline.

Jade Helm 15: The Truth Is Out There

Texas is no stranger to wacky conspiracy theories. One need look no further than Dealey Plaza’s grassy knoll, NASA’s fake moon landing, or Rick Perry’s missing third government agency. But most recently it was a seven-state military training exercise known as Jade Helm 15, part of which took place in the Bastrop area, that caused paranoid Texans to go completely crackers. So unsettling was it to this already unsettled segment of our population that Governor Greg Abbott called on the Texas State Guard to keep an eye on the feds. So was it a true conspiracy? Have a look at a few Jade Helm 15 theories that were bandied about and decide for yourself:

True or false

  • The presence of federal troops was part of an invasion of Texas.
  • Blue Bell trucks, idled as a result of the shutdown, were to be used as “rolling morgues” for resisters.
  • The sky is falling
  • Shuttered Walmart stores were to be used as slave-labor processing centers.
  • Tinfoil hats shield the wearer against government mind control. 

If you responded in the affirmative to one or more of the above statements, you are not alone. A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling found that one third of Republicans and a full 50 percent of tea party supporters believe that Jade Helm 15 was not just a military exercise. Instead and much more alarmingly, as the survey put it, “the Government is trying to take over Texas.”  

When it absolutely, positively has to glow in the dark

Texas A&M officials appealed to the public for help in locating a 27-pound shipment of radioactive material that had supposedly been delivered by FedEx to the school’s Radiation Safety Office. 

If Only Someone Else Would Get Sacked

Despite his troubled personal history, defensive end Greg Hardy was signed by the Dallas Cowboys and called a “real leader” by team owner Jerry Jones. Two weeks later, after graphic images surfaced of Hardy’s ex-girlfriend, who was battered and bruised, Jones insisted, “We want to give Greg a second chance.”

Drunk Friends Don’t Let Drunk Friends Drive Drunk

While an Angelina County sheriff’s deputy held Brent Alan Allman on suspicion of DWI, Allman’s friend James Jackson Yeates walked up to the scene, and Allman proposed that Yeates drive his car home. But Yeates failed a field sobriety test and he too was arrested. A second friend of Allman’s then walked up and was also busted for public intoxication.

She loves to “take care” of animals

Brenham veterinarian Kristen Lindsey was fired from her job after posting a Facebook photo of herself holding a dead cat captioned: “My first bow kill lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s [sic] head! Vet of the year award . . . gladly accepted.”

He Was Jewish, After All

Denying that a large “Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins” sign on city property represented any particular religious bias, Mayor Will Rogers argued, “You can’t pin one religion on Jesus.”

Sometimes Bulletproof and Idiot-Proof Are the Same Thing

A Cass County man was airlifted to a hospital after he shot an armadillo on his property and the bullet ricocheted off the animal and struck him in the jaw. 

The Louie Gohmert Lifetime Achievement Award

Texas Monthly readers have long basked in the glow of Congressman Louie Gohmert’s contributions to the Bum Steers. Last year, we honored him when he raised concerns about gays serving in the military, saying, “If you’re sitting around getting massages all day, ready to go in the big, planned battle, then you’re not going to last very long.” The year before that, he blew a gasket over receiving a $25 ticket for parking improperly at the Lincoln Memorial. Strangely, this was a quiet year for the Tyler politician, so to continue his tradition of excellence, we are bestowing the Louie Gohmert Lifetime Achievement Award on our newly elected agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller, who carried the torch for politicians everywhere. Congrats Commissioner Miller, we expect more great things from you in the future!

  • As one of his first official acts, Miller held a press conference in front of a Hey Cupcake food truck in Austin to remind all Texans that cupcakes were permitted in the public schools.
  • Turning to foreign policy, Miller posted a meme on his Facebook page suggesting that the United States nuke the Muslim world.
  • Not willing to leave our children alone, later in the year he rolled back restrictions on deep fryers and soda vending machines in schools.
  • And before signing off on a long, hard year, he compared Syrian refugees to rattlesnakes.