HAPPIER NEW YEAR! SURELY 2002 HAS TO be better than 2001, and the best way to help it get off to a good start is with a little laughter. Along with our regular January feature, the Bum Steer Awards, in this issue we present a collection of Texas humor pieces: two hundred classic Texas jokes, plus Willie Nelson’s favorite clean jokes—no dirty cracks, please—and lots more.

We’re also doing something different for Bum Steers this time around. Instead of naming our own Bum Steer of the Year, we’re going to let you make the call. There is no shortage of contenders. The Astros choked again, and the Rangers finished last despite bestowing $252 million ($3,452,054.79 per victory) on A-Rod. Darkness—or was it Knight?—descended in Lubbock. The University of Texas had its shot at the Rose Bowl and shot itself in the foot. The Bush girls got busted, Rick Perry busted a record 82 bills with vetoes, and Enron went bust.

Which brings us to our four Bum Steer of the Year finalists: Should the winner be Enron’s former genius Ken Lay? The formerly good Dallas Cowboys? Frustrated litigant Anna Nicole Smith? Or Luftwaffe commissioner—oops, we mean land commissioner—David Dewhurst? The polls are open.

Bum Steer of the Year candidate #1

Ken Lay

Remember when California was broke and Enron was solvent? It was less than a year ago that the energy-trading company trumpeted its status as the first Houston-based company to post $100 billion in revenues. Now comes another first: the largest bankruptcy in the history of American business ($49.8 billion in assets). When Enron was riding high, California attorney general Bill Lockyer blamed the company for his state’s persistent brownouts and other energy problems. Lockyer said of Enron’s chairman, “I would love to personally escort Lay to an eight-by-ten cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, ‘Hi, my name is Spike, honey.'” The way things are going for Enron these days, he may yet get the chance.