Read about our Bum Steer of the Year, Austin, and the four runners-up: Louie Gohmert, Herschel Walker, Gilberto Hinojosa, and Floperation Lone Star. Also, check out our Best Things in Texas list for examples of some of this year’s uplifting moments.

The Bum Steers Committee was busier this year than a security guard at a school board meeting. We updated our official position on Dak Prescott.
(No longer extremely disappointing!) We passed nonbinding resolutions. (Before starting your vehicle, always check to make sure your trailer isn’t on fire.) And of course, we deliberated, argued about, and voted for the Bum Steer of the Year. After every ballot was counted and recounted, it wasn’t a politician who won. It wasn’t even a human being. It was . . . well, see for yourself. But bring a shovel, because there’s a whole heap of misdeeds and miscreants to get through first.

Bum Steer of the Year

Keep Austin Steer’d!

How a funky little college town became the unbearable-traffic, unaffordable-real-estate, insufferable-tech-bro, inanely-precious-restaurant, expensive-BBQ capital of the world! Read more.


Floperation Lone Star

Greg Abbott’s $4 billion program to deter migration . . . doesn’t seem to be deterring migration. Read more.

Gilberto Hinojosa

Texas Monthly recently acquired the (fake!) résumé of one Gilberto Hinojosa, the seemingly indefatigable chair of the long-suffering Texas Democratic party. We print it here in full. Read more.

Louie Gohmert

An open letter to Louie Gohmert, the Bum Steer Hall of Fame’s newest inductee! Read more.

Herschel Walker

(Fake!) excerpts from the campaign diary of a displaced Texan, summer–fall 2022. Read more.

(Dis)honorable Mentions / The Rest of the Herd

At least they weren’t conspiracy theorists dressed up as Southeast Texas congressmen

Republican congressman Troy Nehls, who represents a district southwest of Houston, asserted that a group that visited his Capitol Hill office was made up of undercover “special agents dressed like construction workers” who were engaged in a “deep state” plot to destroy him. The Capitol Police chief said the visitors were, in fact, uniformed officers who closed and locked Nehls’s office after it was left open. 

“Live! Live, you magnificent creature! . . . Actually, you know what might be fun?”

A marine-mammal rescue group said a dolphin stranded on a Brazoria County beach died before its members could reach it in part because beachgoers pushed the stressed animal out to sea and then attempted to ride it. 

A calf on the second floor of a home in Hitchcock.
A calf on the second floor of a home in Hitchcock.Courtesy of Houston SPCA

“Why, yes, officer, I was raised in a barn. Why do you ask?”

Animal welfare investigators rescued some thirty animals from a home in Hitchcock, including two horses, two pythons, and, on the second floor, a calf.

Because you can’t spell “campaign crisis” without “ISIS”

Two-term congressman Van Taylor (R-Plano) abruptly dropped his bid for reelection when it was revealed that he’d had an adulterous affair with a woman who was once a committed jihadist and had traveled to Syria in hopes of joining ISIS. “About a year ago, I made a horrible mistake,” Taylor wrote in an email to supporters.  

Well, when you put it that way . . . 

When Travis County customers of an electric cooperative complained about a blackout caused by fires, a co-op spokesperson explained, “We are looking at the commonalities of each one of these fires finding out what is the weather condition and then what is the equipment that is on the pole that is where the pole-top fire is occurring.”

May he rest in peace for 10 minutes before serving

The grill company Weber issued an apology for emailing customers a meat loaf recipe that coincided with the announcement that Dallas-born singer Meat Loaf had died: “At the time we shared this recipe with you, we were not aware of the unfortunate passing of American singer and actor Mr. Marvin Lee Aday, also known as Meat Loaf. We want to express our deepest apologies for this oversight and for any offense this email may have caused.”

Former president George W. Bush.
Former president George W. Bush.Richard Rodriguez/Getty

He was right the first time about being wrong the last time

In a speech in Dallas, former president George W. Bush decried “the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq,” then quickly corrected himself: “I mean of Ukraine.” 

Hypothesis: covering students in flammable gel and lighting them on fire will have a suboptimal effect on a middle school teaching career

A Granbury Middle School science teacher resigned after conducting an experiment in which he covered a twelve-year-old student’s hands in sanitizer and then lit them on fire, resulting in severe burns. Police said the demonstration had been done “multiple times throughout the day with other students without incident.” 

And the overwrought expressionism of the Hellenistic era really gets him steamed. But mainly his girlfriend.

A 21-year-old Dallas man was arrested for breaking into the Dallas Museum of Art and smashing multiple works, including a Greek amphora dating from the sixth century BC, causing damages estimated in the millions of dollars. The man told authorities he went on the rampage because he was mad at his girlfriend. 

“Our motto: With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. And PARRRRTAAYYYY!!!”

Homeland Security agent William Bernard McCarthy Jr., who was carrying a loaded weapon, was arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level at twice the legal limit, after he collided with another law-enforcement vehicle while heading to a raid in McAllen. 

Did you hear the one about the Aggie?

Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager who fatally shot two demonstrators during protests in Wisconsin in 2020, announced on a podcast that he would attend Texas A&M University and made a point of putting on an Aggie cap. “I’m going to be going there, and it’s going to be awesome,” he said. “Beautiful campus, amazing people, amazing food.” He later admitted that he had only applied to attend a community college in nearby Brenham. 

If we understood what cryptocurrency is, we’d probably be furious about this

Galveston public school officials discovered that an employee had installed devices on the district’s network that were intended to hijack its computing power and electricity to mine cryptocurrency. 

“Take me out of the ball game / Take me out of the league / Ban me from coaching and don’t cut me slack / It seems pretty clear that I’ve gotten the sack / See, I’m in the tank for my kids’ team / If they don’t win I’ll bring shame / ‘Cause it’s shove, smack, I’ll never come back / To the old ball game.”

Harris County sergeant Kenneth Wendt was dismissed as head coach of an age-nine-and-under baseball team after he shoved and aggressively high-fived players of the opposing team following his team’s loss. “I got hit right in the head,” said one child. 

A filmgoer released a live bat as a prank at a screening of The Batman in Austin.
A filmgoer released a live bat as a prank at a screening of The Batman in Austin.Getty

But if you’re comfortable sitting in the dark while Robert Pattinson mumbles and squints for three hours, you’re in the right place

A screening of The Batman at an Austin movie theater was temporarily halted when a filmgoer released a live bat as a prank. An employee told customers, “If you are uncomfortable being in the dark with a bat, please remove yourself now.”

And the rockets’ red . . . AAAARRGGHH!!!

Fort Worth’s official Fourth of July fireworks show was abruptly canceled soon after it began when the pyrotechnics ignited a grass fire on the banks of the Trinity River. 

Gross, no matter how you slice it

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommended a $1 million fine for the Fiesta Mart grocery chain after an investigation revealed a pattern of accidental fingertip amputations among its butchers. 

“U up? Wanna speak in tongues?”

Pastor Matt Chandler of Flower Mound’s Village Church was forced to take a leave of absence when it was revealed that the married clergyman had carried on a texting relationship with a woman who was not his wife—though church elders said the messages were not romantic or sexual.

Seems like harsh punishment for a guy who accidentally ordered one hundred and three sides of chuck wagon cheese fries to go with his cattleman’s prime rib

CPS Energy chief operating officer Fred Bonewell resigned from San Antonio’s city-owned utility company after a local TV news investigation revealed his expense account abuses, which included $729 for an airport limousine and $683 for one meal at Saltgrass Steak House.

“He wasn’t throwing where he was supposed to on game day, either, but we’ll handle that internally”

After quarterback Quinn Ewers’s car was towed during his first game as a University of Texas Longhorn, he wrote on Twitter, “How’d I get towed during the game?” When asked about the incident, coach Steve Sarkisian said, “He wasn’t where he was supposed to be parking on game day.”

Police proceeded to find them, flank them, strip-search them, and chuck them into a cell

Two women evaded store employees and walked out of an H-E-B in Temple with over $2,000 worth of meat they didn’t pay for. 

Trucking delays at the Texas border with Mexico.
Trucking delays at the Texas border with Mexico.Omar Ornelas/The El Paso Times/USA Today Network

¿Cómo se dice “pointless”?

Governor Greg Abbott reached a deal with four Mexican governors to end increased inspections of commercial vehicles entering Texas, after a week of traffic gridlock that caused major trucking delays. Abbott called the deal historic, while three of his Mexican counterparts said they would simply resume the security protocols they had in place before the increased inspections.

“This is your pilot speaking. Folks, we’ve just slammed down in Santa Ana, where the local weather is . . .”

A Southwest Airlines plane hit a runway at Southern California’s John Wayne Airport with such force that a flight attendant fractured a vertebra.

Maybe he thought passengers missed the free nutz

A Texas resident was apprehended by law enforcement following a Southwest Airlines flight during which he used Apple’s AirDrop file-sharing feature to disseminate a photo of his genitals to fellow passengers. “Just having a little fun,” he later explained. 

“Well, folks, we’ve encountered more unexpected perv-ulence”

Yet another male passenger on a Southwest flight, this time from Houston to Cabo San Lucas, used Apple’s file-sharing service to send a nude photo to unwitting passengers. 

A Southwest flight was surprised with free ukuleles.
A Southwest flight was surprised with free ukuleles.Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

But the scariest thing to happen on a Southwest flight was . . .

The airline teamed up with Guitar Center to surprise a flight full of Honolulu-bound passengers with free ukuleles and a group lesson.

And then they went back to their hoses

After the City of Dallas gave employees goody bags of health-related products to promote a wellness initiative, a number of firefighters complained that one item, a mini massager, resembled a sex toy.

The worst part: she was only giving out little boxes of raisins

A Buda woman was charged with second-degree felony aggravated assault after she allegedly pointed a loaded handgun at a trick-or-treater who was walking in front of her home on Halloween. 

“See, your problem is, you wanna go with indirect heat”

Harris County Constable deputies, responding to a report of a pickup truck on fire, charged a man with driving while intoxicated and possessing cocaine, after they found him towing a burning barbecue pit. 

He was slapped with an assault charge and later in-deet-ed but ended up getting off™

A Dallas man was arrested and charged with assault for beating his roommate over the head with a broomstick during an argument over “what a mosquito looks like.” 

Editors clarified that it was not a misprint but a service for people fleeing north to escape the city’s high cost of living

In January the Austin American-Statesman published the weather forecast for Oklahoma City, complete with a large map of Oklahoma and a headline that read “What’s Ahead for Oklahoma City.”

Long TSA lines at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Long TSA lines at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.Nicole Foy

“I’m missing that old jet plane / Don’t know when I’ll get to board again / Babe, I hate the TSA”

In early spring, chronic understaffing by the TSA at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was blamed for severe check-in delays that saw passengers queuing outdoors for hours, causing hundreds to miss their flights. 

The fire hydrants in the boys’ bathroom, though, are real

Michelle Evans, the failed Republican candidate for Texas House District 136, alleged in a tweet that Round Rock ISD officials had lowered cafeteria tables to allow middle and high school students who identify as “furries” to “more easily eat without utensils or their hands (i.e., like a dog eats from a bowl).” Evans offered no evidence, and a school district official said this never happened. 

Not alright, not alright, not alright

In its November issue, Esquire published a moving essay by Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey on how the community and the nation can heal after the Robb Elementary School shooting in May, pairing the story with fashion photos of the actor/activist dressed in Ralph Lauren and Saint Laurent, including a cover shot of him wading in water and wearing a white Armani suit. 

Also not alright

The Esquire story placed the Hill Country town of Uvalde in “West Texas.”

A Donald Trump–themed restaurant called Trump Burger opened in Bellville.
A Donald Trump–themed restaurant called Trump Burger opened in Bellville.Burger, Hat: Getty

Signed: Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States

Trump Burger, a Donald Trump–themed restaurant, opened in Bellville, serving burgers with “TRUMP” branded onto the bun. According to one Yelp review, “You go there the first time because they’re Trump fanboys, and you are too. You will return because it’s a damned good burger.”

And then broke into a rousing chorus of “We are Siamese if you please, we are Siamese if you don’t please.”

For a performance at Walt Disney World, the Port Neches–Groves High School drill team, the Indianettes, made mock war whoops and chanted “Scalp ’em!” The performance “did not reflect our core values, and we regret it took place,” Disney spokesperson Jacquee Wahler later said.

Add 7,000 yards of sheet cake and you’ve got yourself a potluck

Two women in Brownsville were charged with fraud for allegedly buying groceries with illegally purchased food stamp credits and then reselling them in Mexico. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, one woman bought 49.1 tons of American cheese slices, 22.3 tons of pinto beans, 1.4 tons of instant mashed potatoes, more than five thousand gallons of mayonnaise, and 1.6 tons of Folger’s coffee.

Texas senator Ted Cruz at Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
Texas senator Ted Cruz at Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing.Carolyn Kaster/AP

Oh, so you mean hypocritical race theory

During Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Texas senator Ted Cruz accused her of supporting critical race theory because she served on the board of her children’s private school, which espouses a policy of diversity and inclusion. Critics pointed out that Cruz sends his children to Houston’s St. John’s School, which has a nearly identical policy. 

And then, of course, there’s critical-of-your-race theory

A white middle school teacher in Pflugerville was fired after he was caught on video telling a Black student, “Deep down in my heart, I’m ethnocentric, which means I think my race is the superior one.” 

His search terms? T-E-D  C-R-U-Z  N-O-T  A-S  R-E-P-E-L-L-E-N-T A-S U-S-U-A-L

Immediately after grandstanding his way through his questioning of Jackson, Cruz was photographed checking his Twitter account, presumably to see how well his performance played.

“And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time / Till I can plead this down to a fine / I’m not the man who would burn down a home / Oh, no no no”

In other flaming-trailer news, in Kaufman County, southeast of Dallas, a man pulling a burning utility trailer behind his pickup “left a path of destruction,” causing twelve homes to be evacuated and sparking grass fires that torched seven acres before he was finally arrested. News and social media accounts dubbed the driver Rocket Man.

“And cauliflower. No cauliflower.”

Asked by a podcast host what he’d want for his last dinner, former White House physician and current Texas congressman Ronny Jackson replied, “It won’t be dog penis. I ate a whole plate of dog penis one time. I’m not doing that again.” 

“Don’t panic, sir—we’ll send up the ball boy with clean towels—bellboy, sorry!”

A guest at Houston’s swank St. Regis hotel was hospitalized after accidentally shooting himself in the groin. 

Next time, he’ll play it safe and just bribe some guards

A Houston man was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly trying to use a drone to drop contraband, including tobacco, cellphones, and vape pens, into the Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont. 

And they still haven’t found who they’re looking for

A Dallas shopping center’s Facebook account boasted that U2 singer Bono patronized one of its restaurants, posting a photo of customers with a man who resembled—but was not—Bono. 

Alex Jones at the Sandy Hook defamation damages trial in Waterbury, Connecticut on Sept. 22, 2022.
Alex Jones at the Sandy Hook defamation damages trial in Waterbury, Connecticut, on Sept. 22, 2022.Tyler Sizemore/AP

Resting bench face

Austin-based conspiracy theorist Alex Jones grimaced, squinted, frowned, and smirked his way through a trial that ended with a nearly $1.5 billion verdict against him for tormenting family members of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims by saying the 2012 massacre was a hoax.

“Pardon me, are you Pastor Gutierrez, sir? / That depends who’s asking / Oh well, sure, sir, I’m Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lawyer, I’ve been looking for you / I’m getting nervous, sir”

The Door church in McAllen received a cease and desist order after staging an unlicensed production of Hamilton that added Jesus references to the script and was followed by a sermon from pastor Roman Gutierrez comparing homosexuality to drug addiction.

So that’s like, what—5 or 6 pounds of Austin barbecue?

The general manager of La Barbecue, in Austin, reported that a thief jumped the restaurant’s fence in the early hours one morning and made off with $3,000 worth of smoked brisket. 

“I mean, on the one hand you have the corn tortuga people, and on the other the flour tortuga people . . .”

In a speech before a largely Latino audience, first lady Jill Biden mispronounced the word “bodegas” as “bogedas” and said the diversity of the community was “as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio.”

Never try to dodge in a Chevy

In a frantic attempt to avoid being served a subpoena by a group of nonprofit abortion-rights organizations, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton fled his McKinney home in the back seat of a Chevrolet truck driven by his wife, state senator Angela Paxton. He was ultimately ordered to testify.

For an extra 500 bucks they’ll paint “PRIVILEGED D-BAG” on it

The Westlake High School Parent-Teacher Organization held a fund-raising auction for three reserved parking spaces in the school’s lot. Bidding started at $5,000, and the spots sold for $6,700, $10,000, and $20,000. 

“Also, the district attorney’s public relations guy deserves a raise. Signed, not the DA’s PR guy”

A spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office posted comments about the DA on the Houston Chronicle’s website in order to influence public opinion about a case. “We have to ask ourselves, what the heck are these judges thinking these days?” he wrote in one post. 

Once they figure it out, expect to pay a $35 fee for grunt-free seating

Multiple American Airlines flights were plagued by the sound of guttural moans, grunts, and heavy breathing from the in-flight PA system. The Fort Worth–based airline said it had no idea where the sounds were coming from or how to stop them. 


The new head coach of women’s soccer at the University of Texas Permian Basin was placed on paid administrative leave for allegedly asking athletes to bail her out after a DWI arrest, kissing members of the men’s soccer team, supplying players with alcohol, and encouraging them to injure their opponents on the field, among other things.

And it was a big f—ing deal

During a Grapevine-Colleyville school board meeting in September, Casey Ford told fellow board member Becky St. John, “You were witnessed and heard by meeting attendees and on video calling another trustee . . . one was the b-word, one was the f-word, followed by the b-word.” 

Austin mayor Steve Adler.
Austin mayor Steve Adler.Justin Berry

He went with a heavy heart. And even heavier eyelids.

Austin mayor Steve Adler appeared to fall asleep at the memorial service for an Austin police officer.

Go home Pabst, you’re drunk

San Antonio–based Pabst Blue Ribbon broadcast its thoughts on the phenomenon known as “dry January,” when folks give up alcohol for the first month of the year, by tweeting: “Try eating ass.” A Pabst spokesperson said the tweet in question was written “in poor judgment by one of our associates.”

“So, Billy, I want you to really try to put your hips into it.”

Cedar Park’s Vista Ridge High School golf team was forced to cancel a practice after arriving at a course and encountering a tournament, hosted by an area strip club, that featured “some lewd behavior.”

Winstom-Salem??!! Get a rope

A Los Angeles man sued T. W. Garner Food Company after he discovered that its Texas Pete hot sauce is made in North Carolina.

This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “The 2023 Bum Steer Awards.” Subscribe today.