Some Were Dying, Some Were Weeping, Some Were Studying, Some Were Sleeping, Some Were Shouting "Texas #1!"


Ex-Congressman Martin Frost of Dallas wishes the media wouldn't pay so much attention to the gubernatorial campaign of Kinky Friedman, the cult country singer turned mystery novelist. "Much of the national press is treating Kinky as the second coming of Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler who was elected governor of Minnesota as an Independent a few years ago," he writes at "Nothing could be farther from the truth. All polls in Texas have consistently shown Kinky running fourth in a four-person race."

That is true only if "all polls" does not include SurveyUSA, which currently has Kinky running second. (Granted, the margin of error is big enough to push him back down to fourth.) At any rate, Frost argues that Friedman's support boils down to a batch of Austin liberals and a contingent of "rural voters who are down on everyone currently in government." In other words, the candidate has reassembled the grand coalition of urban ironists and back-country militiamen who made the '90s so interesting. That's reason enough for me to back the man—though as it happens, I have three other reasons as well:

1. I support any offbeat celebrity running on a third-party ticket, regardless of platform.

2. Friedman once rhymed "Baruch atah Adonai" with "What the hell you doin' back there, boy?" That's worth at least five votes right there.

3. My brother once bought me Kinky's book Blast from the Past and stood in line so the author could sign it for me. He wrote:

Dear Jesse–
Any brother of Andrew is a brother of mine!

I never finished the book—I prefer Friedman's songs to his novels—but that's the funniest inscription I've ever seen.

Frost may well be right about Brother Kinky's chances, but he's wrong to attribute reporters' fascination with Friedman to a habit of treating Texas like "some erratic third-world nation." They just like to write about an entertaining guy who keeps spouting funny one-liners; if John Waters was running for governor of Maryland, they wouldn't treat the Free State any differently. Either way, Frost's defense of Texas' honor isn't doing his state any favors:

The remarkable thing about the national media's blind spot about Texas politics is that so many nationally prominent politicians have come from Texas during the last 50 years. During that time, three U.S. presidents have been Texans: Lyndon Johnson, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush; two U.S. vice presidents have been Texans: Johnson and Bush Sr.; Texans have served as speaker of the U.S. House: Sam Rayburn and Jim Wright; three Texans have served as majority leader of U.S. House: Wright, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay; one Texan has served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee: Bob Strauss.

Many nationally prominent television journalists have also come from Texas: CBS's Walter Cronkite (University of Texas), Dan Rather (Houston) and Bob Schieffer (Ft. Worth); ABC's Sam Donaldson (El Paso) and PBS's Jim Lehrer (San Antonio and Dallas).

LBJ? Tom DeLay? Are you trying to make your state look bad? I'd take Kinky Friedman over all those schmoes put together. He's an heir to the other great Lone Star political tradition: the one that elected Pappy O'Daniel.

Finally, I'm not sure what to make of this passage:

Kinky is exactly the kind of candidate for whom my 26-year-old daughter–who is single [and] socially liberal and has read all his books–would vote. There is only one problem. She lives in Santa Fe, N.M., and is not registered to vote in Texas. There are a lot of out-of-staters who would vote for Kinky if they only could.

Oh, I understand the point that Frost is making. I just don't know why he threw in the bit about his daughter being single. You think you're reading a political column, and suddenly you're in the middle of a personals ad. SWF. Liberal. Kinky Friedman fan. No smokers. She's only 26, Dad. You don't need to rush things.