December 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

What a year it was, fraught with peril, the most important elections in our nation’s history, rancor in Washington and Austin. I am speaking, of course, about 1860, but we like to think it was 2013 because that makes us feel important. In any event, we need to take a good look at these past 12 months and be happy we can finally view them in our rearview mirror, before Texas Monthly steals our ideas for its Bum Steer Awards.

Let’s start in Austin, which North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and his generals have slated for destruction by long range nuclear missiles. Our own People’s Republic of Austin was seen targeted on a chart labeled “US Mainland Strike Plan” in pictures released by the state-run  newspaper. Hawaii, Washington DC, and Los Angeles are also going to be taken down. Meals on Deals: Lobbyists threw a party for the 15-member House Calendars Committee and friends. Cost: $22,241.03. State troopers searched handbags of spectators at the Capitol before an abortion debate and allegedly seized tampons, bottles of feces, paint and confetti which were going be thrown on the Senate floor, but let handguns with a permit go through. However, when later asked by reporters, the DPS confirmed no such suspicious items were found.

I’m not really a district attorney, I just play one in line-ups: Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge two days after being arrested when a 911 caller reported a vehicle weaving and crossing into oncoming traffic. Video in the jail showed her to be so obnoxious and unruly that she had to be tied to a chair.

Now to Washington where Texans totally embarrassed us. Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas retweeted a Reuters article quoting Venezuelan officials blaming “enemies” of their president, Hugo Chavez, for giving him cancer. Stockman then added a joking comment explaining the cause: “Koch cancer-laser satellites.” Chavez had been in ailing health and undergoing cancer treatment before his death. The tweet was deleted only four seconds after publishing, but it was still caught.

Texans-on-the-Potomac Quotes of 2013: (Courtesy of the New Yorker  — we’ve gone national!) During his 21-hour non-filibuster, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas acknowledged his resemblance to Sen. Joe McCarthy. Despite polls showing overwhelming disapproval of the government shutdown and Cruz’s support of  it, Cruz said: “Once again, it appears the Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people.” “What is it like to be the most hated man in America?” — Foxy Fox news anchor Megyn Kelly to Cruz. Finally, he renounced  his Canadian citizenship, leaving the Birthers trying to figure out why Canada is different from Kenya.

Tasteless Tirade: “Let’s roll.” —  U.S. Rep. John Culberson of Texas compared GOP efforts to kill Obamacare to the efforts of passengers on Flight 93 to thwart the 9/11 hijackers. “Isn’t that impressive?” — U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas (naturally) asking reporters about a group of House Republicans’ ability to sing three verses of “Amazing Grace.” U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer was caught on TV berating a Park Ranger for keeping tourists out of the National World War II Memorial because of the government shutdown which Neugebauer had voted for. The ranger was working without pay. U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said that Sen. John McCain “supported Al Qaeda.” Gohmert, of Tyler, warned the world that “radical Islamists” are being trained to “act like Hispanic[s]” to get into the U.S. from Mexico. Photo Finished: When the class photo of the Women Democrats in the new 2012 U.S. House was taken, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, along with three others, was absent. No problem, they were doctored in.

Houston, you’ve got a problem: Macy’s closed its downtown store and the place was demolished. “You don’t die from the flu.” – Houston City Councilman Jack Christie. The hapless Houston Texans installed two massive new video screens in an effort to lure the 2017 Super Bowl to Reliant Stadium. Cowboys Stadium, aka AT&T, in Arlington had the biggest screens, and Houston’s is about 30 percent larger than those. James A. Baker III, honorary chairman of Houston’s Super Bowl Committee, was told by the NFL he couldn’t participate in the city’s presentation to the owners because he’s a “celebrity.” So he worked behind the scenes and, maybe it was his efforts or maybe it was the scoreboards, but Houston got the Super Bowl. However, the Texans lost almost all their games and lost head coach Gary Kubiak, while three former — and also much beloved — head coaches, Bum Phillips, Jack Pardee and Darrell Royal, all went to that great fifth quarter in the sky. Bud Adams also departed.

From the birthplace of Dr Pepper: The Balcones Distillery in Waco bested nine others, including storied Scottish names, in a blind panel of British spirits experts. It was the first time an American whiskey won the Best in Glass, a five-year-old competition to find the best whiskey released in a given year.

One Minute Warning: Craig James, of Houston’s Stratford High, SMU, NFL, ESPN, ABC and CBS, was fired after one day on Fox Sports Southwest. From the banks of the Brazos: The largest volcano on Earth has been named for Texas A&M. Aggie Prof William Sager named the volcano, as big as New Mexico, Tamu Massif. Unfortunately, it’s at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and no one has ever seen it. Johnny Football, one-time Heisman winner Johnny Manzile, got paid for selling his autographs and was severely punished: he had to sit out the first half of a football game.  The Texas Aggies are building the state’s largest stadium with seats for 102,500, which is exactly 2,381seats more than UT’s Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

What kind of year was 2013? It was when the rest of the nation discovered there is a comma between West and Texas. Now on to 2014.To quote a Texas congressman: Let’s roll!

Ashby is Man of the Year (1860) at









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