What Some Texans Want Is Kinky

Why am I running for governor of Texas in 2006? Why the hell not? I already have several good campaign slogans, starting with “How hard could it be?”

Compared with the daunting financial crunch that Arnold Schwarzenegger inherited when he became governor of California, being governor of Texas is a notoriously easy gig. It’s rather like being the judge of a giant chili cook-off.

Consider that in the past a series of wealthy Texas oilmen have ascended to the office, some of them rarely bothering to leave their ranches to go to Austin unless there was a football game. And it’s clear that not much was expected of our first female governor, Ma Ferguson, who, regarding bilingual studies, once said: “If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for Texas.”


Here’s another reason I’m running: Texas has a tradition of singing governors. Pappy O'Daniel’s successful race took place in the 1940s. He had a band called the Light Crust Doughboys. I, of course, had a band called the Texas Jewboys. His slogan was “Pass the biscuits, Pappy.” One of my own most popular, often-requested songs is “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven (And Your Buns in the Bed).” The parallels are almost uncanny.

Our current governor, Rick Perry, is very proud of his hair. I’ve got a better head of hair than him, but it’s not in a place I can show you because I wear a cowboy hat most of the time. Actually, the only thing cowboys and Jews have in common is that we both like to wear our hats indoors. In the rare instances in which I take off my hat, I have what I often like to refer to as the Lyle Lovett Starter Kit.

Part of the charm of my quixotic campaign is that it may be taken as a joke by some, an article of faith by others. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the other guy’s got the experience -- that’s why I’m running.

I have a new product coming on the market this summer. My Palestinian hairdresser, Farouk Shami, and I are importing olive oil from the Holy Land. One hundred percent of the profits of Farouk & Friedman Olive Oil will go to Israeli and Palestinian children. We aim to show Arafat and Sharon how it’s done. When I’m governor, Farouk will be my ambassador to Israel.

Willie Nelson, the hillbilly Dalai Lama, also will play a seminal role in my plans. In a Friedman administration, Willie confided to me, he would like to be head of the Texas Rangers. If that’s not possible, he’d like to be head of the DEA.

Willie and I, of course, do not always agree on everything. More than a year ago, just before the invasion of Iraq, we were discussing the subject on his bus. I was very much for the war. He was very much against it. Finally, I tried to reason with him. “Look, Willie,” I said, “the guy’s a tyrannical bully and we’ve got to take him out.” “No,” Willie said. “He’s our president and we’ve got to stand by him.”

Even though the governor of Texas does not do much heavy lifting, this does not mean that he can’t do some spiritual lifting. I have a plan to start a Texas Peace Corps, and that is not an oxymoron. I want to fight the wussification of Texas. We didn’t get to be the Lone Star State by being politically correct.

I’m not anti-death penalty but I am anti-the-wrong-guy-getting-executed. Max Soffar has been on death row for 23 years, brought to trial solely on the basis of a long-ago recanted confession, and represented by the infamous Joe Cannon, a state-appointed attorney known to have slept through some of his clients’ capital murder cases.

And I don’t merely want to save innocent people. I also want to save innocent animals. When I’m governor, Texas will become a no-kill state. I’ll also outlaw the declawing of cats. For five years, I’ve been involved with Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch (utopia, a never-kill sanctuary for stray and abused animals. You can learn a lot about life by working with stray and abused animals. I’d probably be a Buddhist today if it weren’t for Richard Gere.

I aspire to inspire before I expire -- to remind people that JFK is not an airport, RFK is not a football stadium and Martin Luther King Jr. is not a street. In 2 1/2 years you may see me in the back of a long, black limousine, which will mean that I’m either governor or I’ve been bugled to Jesus, the distinction often not being readily discernible.

If I am elected, I already know the first thing I’ll do: Demand a recount! But can I really win? Read my lips: I don’t know.

Kinky Friedman is an author, musician and columnist for Texas Monthly.