This is an excerpt from the new ebook Molly Ivins: Letters to The Nation, a collection of articles by the esteemed writer who graced our pages for twenty-five years. The eBook is now available on tablets, smartphones and computers—download yours today.
We’ve just survived another political season largely unscathed. I voted for Bobby Locke for governor: he’s the one who challenged Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to hand-to-hand combat. In the Gulf of us. On the Line of Death. At high noon. Next Fourth of July. “Only one of will come out of the water alive,” said Locke. Locke thinks the trouble with America is that we’ve lost respect for our leaders and this would be a good way to restore same. Me too. Besides, you should have seen the other guys.
The Republicans had a Congressman running who thinks you get AIDS through your feet. That’s Representative Tom Loeffler of Hunt, who is smarter than a box of rocks. His television advertisements proudly claimed, “He’s tough as bob war” (bob war is what you make fences with), and also that in his youth Loeffler played football with two broken wrists. This caused uncharitable persons to question the man’s good sense, so he explained he didn’t know his wrists were broken at the time. Loeffler went to San Francisco during the campaign to make a speech. While there, he wore shower caps on his feet while showering lest he get AIDS from the tile in the tub. He later denied that he had spent the entire trip in his hotel room. He said: “I did walk around the hotel. I did see people who do have abnormal tendencies. I’d just as soon not be associated with abnormal people.” If that’s true, what was he doing running for governor of Texas?
Perhaps Loeffler’s most enduring contribution to Texas political lore was a thought that seemed to him so profound he took to repeating it at every campaign stop and during televised debates as well: “As I have traveled around this state, many people have said to me, ‘Texas will never be Texas again.’ But I say they are wrong. I say Texas will always be Texas.” Hard to add anything to that.
On the Democratic side, the nerd issue was dominant. The ugly specter of nerditude was raised by A. Don Crowder, a candidate from Dallas. Crowder’s platform consisted of vowing to repeal the no-pass, no-play rule on account of it has seriously damaged high school football and is un-American, un-Texan and probably communist inspired. No pass, no play was part of the education reform package enacted last year by Governor Mark White and the State Legislature. If you don’t pass all your school subjects, you can’t participate in any extracurricular activities, including football. Quite naturally this has caused considerable resentment and could cost White the governorship. So A. Don Crowder holds this press conference in which he says the reason Mark White favors no pass, no play is because White was “one of the first nerds in Texas.” As evidence, Crowder produces White’s high school annual, and there it was: the guy was zip in extracurricular activities in his school days. We’re talking, not even Booster Club. Not Glee Club or Stage Crew. Not even the Prom Poster Committee. According to Crowder, this explains ‘‘the psychological reasoning behind White’s dislike of football.”
There were headlines all over the state: “Gov. White Called ‘Nerd’ By Yearbook Wielding Foe.” “Nerd Charge Merits Scrutiny.” Meanwhile, we tracked down Donnie Crowder’s high school annual and guess what? He was captain of the football team. Played baseball. Ran track. And was in the French Club. French Club! Need I say more? Quel fromage.