Republican, Carthage, 39. When Drew Nixon picks up his microphone on the Senate floor, his colleagues pay close attention—but not out of respect. They’re hoping for a little comic relief, and they’re seldom disappointed. During the debate on an important education bill, Nixon observed that the state’s school-finance system was “a rather oddball duck.” Well, it takes one to know one.

You never know what daffy position he might take. Following committee testimony about the troubles of elderly residents of substandard nursing homes, Nixon wondered aloud, “Why are they still living here? We don’t have anybody chained to the bed in there. We don’t have them chained to that dirty toilet.…I wouldn’t want a relative of mine living in that situation. But they have chosen to be there.” (Yes, they could always climb in their wheelchairs and leave.) During the debate on the electricity-deregulation bill, Nixon tied the Senate’s all-time record for futility when he offered an amendment and got no votes except his own. Did he take the hint and shut up? No, he went right on offering amendments. Mercifully, the rest were defeated by voice votes, sparing him a permanent record of humiliation.

It’s not just incompetence that has made Nixon an untouchable in the Senate’s unofficial caste system. His lasting legacy is the memory of his arrest last session on charges of soliciting a female undercover Austin police officer for sex. After paying his debt to society with a six-month jail term, he announced this session that his experience had given him new appreciation for the plight of downtrodden criminal defendants. He promptly put this insight to use by coming out against a bill outlawing the possession of handguns at church services. “You can’t just go around trouncing on people’s rights,” he explained. He is such a pariah that a schoolteacher on a field trip from Nixon’s district asked another senator to welcome her students rather than have them meet their own senator. His continued presence heaps shame on the entire Legislature; no news this session was more dismaying than Nixon’s announcement that he might run for reelection.