If you turn to our Bum Steers roundup each year because you enjoy reading comical summaries of humanity’s most ridiculous and idiotic endeavors, you’ll find plenty in this year’s installment to keep you happy. The 2019 edition of the Bum Steer Awards features more than its fair share of blurbs about, say, the couple who engaged in an intimate act in the middle of a family restaurant or the woman who crashed into a fence with her child in her lap or the law enforcement officers who drank until their brains fell out. Let it never be said that Texas suffers a shortage of sons and daughters willing to confirm the rest of the world’s sometimes low opinion of us.

But if you take a moment to look away from all the capsule summaries of quotidian stupidity and read this package’s top four profiles, which offer in-depth assessments of our Bum Steer of the Year and the three runners-up for that dubious honor, you’ll note a very different theme emerging: all four pieces are about notorious, or at least hapless, political figures or commentators. That theme wasn’t planned, but it wouldn’t be fair to call it an accident either. As the Bum Steers jury mulled over who this year’s top Steer would be, we found our attention turning again and again to national and Texas politics, which, as people on both sides of the aisle largely agree (and it’s about the only thing they agree on), have turned into a circus—though there’s plenty of disagreement about who’s driving the clown car.

This focus on politics will no doubt come as something of a letdown to those who turn to Bum Steers to get a humorous respite from the onslaught of jaw-dropping news reports that assault us on a daily, if not hourly, basis. But as the old saying goes, we’ve gotta laugh to keep from crying. Though politics may have wormed its way into every facet of our lives, for at least one month of the year all of us can choose to regard it as a comedy, not a tragedy. And if that doesn’t work, we can always drink until our brains fall out.

Bum Steer of the Year

Alex Jones

The radio host dragged our democracy into the same sewer he crawled out of so many years ago. READ MORE.

First Runner-up

Blake Farenthold

The former congressman’s troublesome professional ethics, alleged caddish behavior, and questionable taste in adult-size onesie pajamas landed him high on the list. READ MORE.

Second Runner-up

Lupe Valdez

The former Dallas County sheriff ran the worst gubernatorial campaign in Texas since the last time a Democrat went up against Greg Abbott. READ MORE.

Third Runner-up

Steve Stockman

The disgraced former congressman graces our list for his eagerness to enrich himself—or at least pay his kennel bills—in a transparently illegal manner. READ MORE.

(Dis)honorable Mentions / The Rest of the List

It was time for him to meat justice

A 47-year-old man from San Marcos nicknamed the Brisket Bandit was arrested by New Braunfels police for stealing more than a dozen briskets on two separate occasions from the same H-E-B.

In their defense, they did hail from La Tierra de los Idiotas

While negotiating a contract with the City of Austin, a local developer posted a map on one of its websites that gave various parts of the city “humorous” nicknames, such as this one for a traditionally Hispanic portion of East Austin: Tortilla Canyon.

“Tweeting made-up quotes attributed to a well-known politician is perfectly okay with me.” —Governor Greg Abbott

In August the governor tweeted a quote attributed to Winston Churchill that stated, “The fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists.” When it was pointed out that Churchill had never uttered those words, Abbott said, “It was irrelevant to me who may or may not have said that in the past.”

Their motto: “To protect and get way overserved”

Two Austin police officers were disciplined after they drank too much at a police union gala. One officer, who reportedly consumed “around ten drinks,” screamed at event staff; the other urinated outside the banquet hall as he was leaving.

Barring Capture, they remain in legal limbo

Three thieves who were caught on security video belly-crawling across the floor of a Houston restaurant, presumably to avoid being caught on camera, reportedly got away with hundreds of dollars in tip money and were promptly dubbed the Inchworm Bandits.

You could call it political seed money

According to a Texas Ethics Commission report, a South Texas candidate for state representative received $51,000 in donations in the form of deer semen.

He was heeding the siren’s call

An inmate with a history of evading and resisting arrest who was being transferred to Abilene in a Taylor County sheriff’s office patrol car managed to free himself from handcuffs and make his way onto the roof, where he sat as the car drove down Texas Highway 277 until backup arrived and he was tased and re-handcuffed.

“Sister, have you heard the good news about sexual assault?”

Paige Patterson, the long-serving president of Fort Worth’s Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was fired last May after allegedly discouraging a female congregant who had been the victim of rape from going to the police and assuring another victim that her future husband wouldn’t care if she wasn’t a virgin.

He and his career hit one last bump in the road

A bus driver for a group of elderly day care centers in the Austin area was fired after video was posted to social media that showed him operating the vehicle while lighting what appeared to be a crack pipe.

The margaritas aren’t the only things that go down easy at Baby A’s

A couple was arrested for public lewdness after a manager at a Baby Acapulco restaurant in Austin noticed the pair engaging in oral sex in one of the booths and in front of other customers, including multiple children.

“Hi, I’m Khalil, your server, and I’m libel to help you however I can”

In July, twenty-year-old Khalil Cavil, a waiter at an Odessa steakhouse, posted on Facebook a photo of a receipt that showed zero tip on a $108.73 bill and the handwritten message “We don’t tip terrorist.” The post, which garnered a great deal of media attention, got the customer banned from the restaurant—until Cavil finally admitted to fabricating the note.

He hated being needled like that

A 31-year-old Austinite who was arrested for shooting a man in the shoulder explained to police that he believed the victim had been “putting voodoo on him.”

Penalty, offense: unintentional grounding

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams was suspended for three games without pay after he was arrested by Frisco police, who suspected he had crashed his Lamborghini into a light pole. Minutes after the accident, he was caught on dashcam video unsteadily riding a tiny electric bicycle and then falling over the handlebars and onto the ground. (The charges were later dismissed.)

Seems like, in this case, it’d be okay to pamper a suspect

After being placed into the back of a patrol car during the course of an investigation into a reported theft at a local grocery store, a Corsicana woman allegedly defecated in her pants and then attempted to conceal 2.3 grams of crack cocaine, a crack pipe, and a Valentine’s Day card in her own excrement.

Uncooler heads prevailed

National Rifle Association supporters, responding to reports that Yeti, the Austin-based cooler company, had severed ties with the NRA, posted videos of themselves blowing up their own coolers, many of which cost hundreds of dollars. As it turned out, Yeti said it had simply ended a discount program with a number of organizations.

It used to be just the cost of ammunition that was through the roof

A box of ammo weighing approximately forty pounds that was accidentally dropped from a Black Hawk helicopter stationed at Fort Bliss fell about a thousand feet, crashed through the roof of an El Paso elementary school, and landed in a classroom. (No one was injured.)

She was found to be in possession of high-caliber spirit

While standing in a security line at Houston’s Hobby Airport, Texas Tech undergraduate Diana Durkin spotted a fellow traveler who was wearing a Tech-branded hoodie and made a finger-pistol gesture and put her “guns up.” Despite being the official hand signal of the Red Raiders since 1971, the gesture reportedly alarmed TSA agents enough to cause them to pull the young woman out of line for questioning.

It was clear that she had major hang-ups

Crenshanda Williams, a 911 operator who had spent a year and a half taking calls at the Houston Emergency Center, was found guilty of interfering with emergency telephone calls after an investigation revealed that she had hung up on thousands of callers, including some requesting help during robberies and even homicides.

And the award for Mother of the Year goes to . . .

A Lufkin woman was arrested on charges of child endangerment and driving while intoxicated after she allowed her seven-year-old son to sit on her lap and help drive—and then crashed into a fence.

Has the Lord brought up retirement, Your Honor?

A judge in Comal County, Jack Robison, twice interrupted a jury that was deliberating the case of a woman accused of sex trafficking to tell them he believed the defendant was not guilty. Though this was a violation of the state’s code of ethics requiring jurists to maintain impartiality, Robison said he was at peace with his actions because God had told him to deliver the message. “When God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,” he explained. (The jury, unswayed by God’s directive, found the defendant guilty.)

Police somehow resisted the impulse to call him the Whataburglar

A San Antonio man was indicted for felony theft after he threw a drink in the face of a sixteen-year-old boy who was eating at a Whataburger, grabbed the teenager’s “Make America Great Again” hat off of his head, uttered a racist slur, and walked out of the restaurant.

Apparently chips, like women, should be seen and not heard

In an interview, Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, which owns Texas-based Doritos, said that the company was getting ready to launch a new Doritos product designed specifically for women, who “don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously, and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.” The internet had a field day mocking “lady-friendly Doritos.”

Now, she might be the type of woman who finishes a bag of Doritos by pouring it into her mouth

A Wichita Falls woman was arrested on a burglary charge after police were called by a man who found her naked in his home, where she had apparently washed her hair and helped herself to cake, salad, popcorn, a cookie, and a Pepsi.

Gun: check.
Money bag: check.
Getaway car: check.
Gas: yeah, I got about a quarter tank. That ought to do it.

An armed man who robbed a Round Rock Whataburger jumped into a 2011 Ford Taurus and fled north on I-35, leading police on a seventy-mile chase that ended with his arrest when his getaway car ran out of gas near the small town of Troy.

Another alternative might’ve been mediation

A Caldwell County man engaged in a feud with his neighbor was charged with criminal trespass and deadly conduct after he caught a rattlesnake, bit off its rattle, and placed the creature inside the other man’s RV.

Be advised, suspects are masked and fiendishly clever

After a pair of raccoons fell through the ceiling of the Bedford Police Department, animal control officers spent nine hours chasing the creatures throughout the building before finally apprehending them and releasing them outside.

“I will not pay exotic dancers to visit school ever again” x 100

A student at Round Rock’s Noel Grisham Middle School received disciplinary action from principal Paige Hadziselimovic after he paid a stripper to visit the campus during the school day.

This film is brought to you in glorious stab-o-vision

A man ended a dispute over movie seats at a Sherman screening of the ultraviolent horror movie The First Purge by stabbing another moviegoer in the abdomen.

And the Father of the Year award goes to . . .

A Round Rock man was arrested and charged with marijuana possession and abandoning or endangering a child after witnesses saw his three-year-old son crawling across a grocery store parking lot while strapped to a car seat.

He was also upset that the entire hotel was nonsmoking

A man who was upset about the room rate at a Taylor hotel was charged with arson for allegedly starting a fire in the hotel’s attic.

Maybe he would have had better luck with a Ford Escape

Police apprehended a man in Williamson County after he assaulted a driver and attempted to steal his Chevrolet Bolt but was unable to make a clean getaway because he couldn’t figure out how to drive the all-electric car.

Wait, there’s another really bad one . . . what was it? Anti-Semi-something . . .

Greenville Avenue Church of Christ, in Richardson, distributed flyers promoting a series of summertime faith meetings covering “Dangerous Isms,” including alcoholism, materialism, pessimism, liberalism, Islamism, and Judaism.

And next week’s featured speaker at the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ will be . . .

Retired Texas congressman Ron Paul’s social media accounts posted a condemnation of “Cultural Marxism” that was accompanied by a racist and anti-Semitic cartoon.

They must have been hoping for a delay of game

The Tom Green County Democratic party scheduled a gubernatorial forum for Democratic candidates to be held in San Angelo on January 8, 2018, at 7 p.m. CST, the precise date and kickoff time for the College Football Playoff National Championship game.

He had his cake, and then his career really ate it

Corpus Christi City Council candidate Eric Tunchez, who was hoping to fill a spot left open when councilwoman Lucy Rubio stepped down, was caught on security camera taking a slice of Rubio’s going-away cake before it was presented to her and smearing the icing that spelled out her name. Two days later, Tunchez was indicted in a felony promotion-of-prostitution case and went on to receive the second-lowest number of votes in the election, besting only Roland Gaona, who had died the month before.

En fack, Yer Honor, I drive e’en more good whun i’ve had a few [hiccup!] alcoholic beverlidge . . . blever . . . beer!

In an appeal of a trial court’s denial of a request to quash a DWI indictment, a San Antonio man argued, unsuccessfully, that Texas’s .08 blood alcohol limit “unfairly discriminates against alcoholics” because heavy drinkers do a better job of holding their liquor.

With all the results now in, we can definitively declare that Sid Miller is still a nitwit

A Facebook post by Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller inaccurately claimed that “FINAL NUMBERS” showed that Donald Trump had actually won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election.

Further proof that our electoral system is going down the tubes

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed a complaint with Bexar County over poorly translated online voting materials that rendered “runoff election” as “election drainage.”

Try to unremember what you saw at the Alamo!

A man wearing little more than a backward baseball cap streaked across Alamo Plaza while pushing a baby stroller before he was tackled and subdued by an Alamo Ranger.

A festive pink always goes nicely with an orange jumpsuit

A nineteen-year-old Dallas woman’s dazzling mug shot, snapped at Hunt County jail after she was arrested for marijuana possession, was posted to the Twitter account @mugshotbaes, where it garnered some 280,000 likes, tens of thousands of retweets, and a torrent of requests for makeup advice.

It was a sign of the times

A highway billboard near Vega that stated “Liberals please continue on I-40 until you have left our GREAT STATE OF TEXAS” prompted death threats and accusations of bigotry after a photo of it went viral, leading to its removal.

“And Prescott drops back into the pocket, he sees his man, he throws, and . . . oh, that was an artery, wasn’t it?”

A Colleyville plastic surgeon was cited by the Texas Medical Board for allegedly performing a botched liposuction procedure while watching a football game on television.

She really hates being late to parenting class

A San Antonio mom led authorities on a harrowing car chase, flying recklessly through red lights, plowing headlong into oncoming traffic, reaching speeds of 100 miles per hour, and stopping only after the deployment of a spike strip and a collision with a pickup, at which point she exited the Mercedes SUV she had been driving, grabbed her infant from the back seat, took off on foot, and then hopped into a nearby SUV, which she attempted to carjack before being apprehended.

Turned out “Buy 1, get 18 free” really was too good to be true

Laredo police recovered hundreds of bottles of stolen Patrón tequila, valued at nearly $25,000, after a man started advertising massive sales of the beverage on various social media pages.

“Do you want to make a deposit, check your balance, or shamelessly rip off this financial institution?”

Law enforcement officials were dispatched to a bank in north Harris County after fights broke out when an ATM began dispensing $100 bills in place of tens.

Now he’s in the holding tank

A San Antonio–area man and two accomplices snatched a sixteen-inch-long horn shark named Helen from an open tank at the San Antonio Aquarium, wrapped her in a wet blanket, and placed her in a baby stroller before fleeing. The man, who was later arrested, told authorities that he wanted to replace a horn shark he’d owned that had recently died.

As Ferrari knew, one car was as good as another

A man stole a $300,000 Ferrari GTC4Lusso T that was parked, unlocked and with the keys inside, in the driveway of a Highland Park home and then left his beat-up 2007 Chevrolet Suburban at the scene of the crime.

Apparently it was three-fer Thursday

An Austin EMS ambulance that was called to the scene of an accident in which a suspected drunk driver had struck two police cars that were at the scene of an arrest of another suspected drunk driver was itself hit by a third suspected drunk driver.

We all remember the six stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and appalling vitriolic outbursts

Hours after Barbara Bush’s death, former Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone posted that the former first lady “drank so much booze, if they cremated her . . . her body would burn for three days.”

They want to have a big tent, they’d just prefer a teeny-tiny opening

Members of the Tarrant County Republican party wrote posts on the group’s Facebook page demanding the ouster of a surgeon and Southlake City Council member from his party leadership position because they feared that, as a Muslim, he might have connections to “Islamic terror groups” and be more loyal to Islamic law than to American law.

“We’re Beto O’Rourke supporters, and we disapprove this message”

In October outspoken attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted a link to what appeared to be a donation page for senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke with the message “Lyin’ Ted Cruz is attacking me because I am supporting Beto. Help us send the liar back home to Canada (sorry Canada)—chip in for Beto now.” He soon after deleted the page when angry O’Rourke supporters pointed out that half of each contribution would go to Avenatti’s own PAC.