Without fail, our annual Bum Steer of the Year cover draws ire from a fair number of readers, who are convinced that our choice offers indisputable proof that texas monthly is staffed by a bunch of communist dupes (or right-wing nutjobs) and carpetbagging Yankees (or hopelessly parochial hicks). This year, however, our choice of Wendy Davis—and especially our cover depiction of Davis stepping in a viscous pile of steer poop—brought a response that was unusual in its volume and intensity. The debate raged on Facebook and spilled into various other media outlets, and our in-boxes were filled with a large number of missives saturated with f-bombs. “F— you and the Austinite fake hippies you rode in on,” read one particularly memorable email. Below, some more thoughts from readers who believe we were the ones who stepped in it. 

Bum’s the Word

I want to thank you for the inspired choice of Wendy Davis as the Bum Steer of 2015 and the wonderful cover accompanying it! Taking her out of the businesslike suit she wore during her infamous filibuster and putting her into a slinky, boob-and-butt-highlighting, bright-red party dress was brilliant; it really emphasizes the contrast between her gender and what she so brazenly attempted to achieve in her bid for governor.

One question for you: What does the crap she’s stepping in represent?  

I am sure many proud Texans would want to know. In particular, I am thinking of those venerable folks (well-known and otherwise) who gave their lives to fight for the ability of all Texans to be represented at all levels in their government, to be held to the same standards and judged by the same measures, and to be given the same degree of respect.

Does it represent the mire she dived into by openly and proudly fighting for access to a safe abortion for Texas women and girls? Her unbending support over the years for funding education, fighting to ensure that impoverished kids have options comparable to those of upper-class kids? Her insistence on treating all human beings, regardless of immigration or socioeconomic status, as, well, human beings?  

Or is it for the simple fact that a Barbie doll had the effrontery to challenge the impenetrable male establishment that is Texas politics?

Innumerable brave, self-sacrificing, tenacious Texans have fought for equality within the Texas political system. For a certain segment, that fight was harder than anyone who has not experienced the world as a woman can imagine. These Texans—Angelina Eberly, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Liz Carpenter, Molly Ivins, Oveta Culp Hobby, Susanna Dickinson, and so many more—must be gathering around that great barbecue pit in the sky, asking of one another, What does that crap represent? Which particular sins of Wendy Davis earned her the distinction of being named Bum Steer of 2015?
Gretchen McCord DeFlorio, Bastrop County

Your horrible, stupid January cover depicting a great Texan in such an ugly, misogynistic, inaccurate, and un-Texan manner is indefensible. I have been reading TM for almost forty years, and I have never seen anything so tasteless.
Les Brady, via email

Your caricature of Wendy Davis is outrageously offensive. I don’t mind that you nominated her, but the way you went about mocking her was out of line. Punch up, not down.
Jack McCauley, via email

Shame on you. Shame On You. SHAME ON YOU.
Carol Anne Gordon, via email

Wendy Davis has more class on the bottom of her sneakers than all you yahoos put together.
Janet Leavesley, via email

What a group of hypocrites you texas monthly editors are. First you slobber all over Davis in the August 2013 issue and then, when she proves to be even more wacky and incompetent than many of us Republicans first thought, you honor her with your Bum Steer. Try next time to keep your bias in check when some liberal nutcase makes a futile run at responsible office.
Byron Spain, Spring Branch

Here I thought you were open-minded and fair! Wendy Davis needs to have our respect for the gumption she showed campaigning against a Republican “good ol’ boy” network in a red state. She put up one hell of a fight, and I know that if she had run in any state but Texas, she would have won, and that state would be lucky to have such an intelligent, enthusiastic, hardworking governor.
Patricia Stewart, via email

Corrective Measures: And the Bum Steer of the Year Should Have Gone To . . . 

The 75 percent of eligible voters who didn’t vote. 
Kristen Sheets, via email

Ted Cruz, who shut down the government for two weeks.
Yvonne Jocks, via email

GWB, for authorizing torture. 
Paul Robert, via Twitter

Rick Perry, only the second sitting governor of Texas to be indicted. 
R. T. Castleberry, Houston

Texas Monthly, for this cover!
Olga Pina, via Facebook

Fair, the Wells?

Having just read Skip Hollandsworth’s “Tilting at Gas Wells,” I think what has happened is that the people of Denton have been sold a false bill of goods, and they recognize it. Hence the recent referendum that bans fracking. While I feel this ban represents a Pyrrhic victory, my letter is one that asks more questions than provides answers: Is it really that quixotic to expect safety for one’s family? Is the only way to fund the education of children in Denton, or many other municipalities, by putting them at harm? Do the oil and gas companies actually believe, by some sort of specious reasoning, that the financial burden of education would effectively go down if there were fewer children to educate? Possibly, but I don’t think poisoning them is the responsible course of action. And, finally, isn’t it possible to do business in a responsible, if less profitable, manner?
Miles Morris, via email

As a career municipal lawyer and land-use litigator, I must disagree with Mr. Hollandsworth’s assertion that Denton’s fracking regulation ordinance has “zero” chance to withstand review by conservative Texas courts. The opposite is true. Article XI, Section 5, of the Texas constitution provides home-rule cities full power of self-governance, absent clear and narrow preemption by valid statewide legislation. The statutes referenced in the article fall far, far short of providing that preemption. Denton prevails.
Mick McKamie, via texasmonthly.com

What if your family owned the mineral rights? Would you want the city telling you that you could not develop the minerals? This article gives no consideration for individual rights. The liberal slant is that it is about big oil and state versus city, when it is actually about city versus individual rights.
Glenn Burleson, via Facebook

Objection! Overruled!

I view your latest hurrah for Joe Jamail (“The Greatest Lawyer Who Ever Lived”) as treasonable promotion of anarchy in the Texas civil and criminal courts. Once again you honor the so-called “greatest trial lawyer who ever lived” by giving him a bully pulpit to advance his agenda while denying same to his many detractors, of which I am one of long standing. 
Ray E. Dittmar, Houston

Glorifying a lawyer as “the greatest” based on how much money he won is just sick. TM is guilty of pandering to the legal industry with this smarmy article. What an insult to your subscribers! 
Harry L. Bowles, founder of HELP-Texas

#Bestof2014 “The Greatest Lawyer Who Ever Lived,” by John Spong at texas monthly. So TEXAS it hurts.
Aboubacar Ndiaye, via Twitter

Origin Stories

I really enjoyed “Saddle Up,” by Lonn Taylor, and plan to visit the Briscoe Western Art Museum next time I am in San Antonio. Like Enrique Guerra, I am also a descendant of the first Texas ranchers to settle along the Rio Grande, and my ancestors were documented in that area in an inventory of settlers taken in 1755. I am very proud of my deep Texas roots and try to get back to my origins as much as possible. I look forward to more articles from Mr. Taylor. It is important to know where we came from. Our family histories give us a sense of place.
Edna Campos Gravenhorst, St. Louis, Missouri