Dubious Distinctions Department

One of the underappreciated aspects of our Governor Goodhair is his high standards. How else can you explain his recent remarks in which he said that he doesn’t want Texas to be “like Mississippi”?

[Rick] Perry, a Republican, was quoted as saying on Jan. 18: “I don’t want to become Mississippi.” He went on to mention transportation, economic development and education — three areas in which states are struggling in tight economic times.

For some odd reason, the folks in Mississippi didn’t take this as a compliment.

Mississippi House Speaker Tim Ford said Perry was being just plain undiplomatic, and he told the Texas governor as much in a two-page letter Thursday.

Ford, a Democrat, told Perry he didn’t want to launch “an achievement contest” between the two states, but he mentioned a $1.5 billion Nissan plant that is opening this year in Mississippi and bragged on the state’s lawmakers for working early this session on a comprehensive education funding plan.

“We elected officials in Mississippi are of the opinion that denigrating a sister state is not statesmanlike conduct,” Ford wrote.

Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said the governor had not received a copy of Ford’s letter.

“His comments certainly were not meant to cast any bad light on the state or its citizens,” Walt said. “His father-in-law is a Mississippi native.”

But Ford said the remark offended many Mississippians.

“I invite you to come visit us to learn more about Mississippi, and I respectfully request that you refrain from criticizing Mississippi and its many assets and accomplishments,” Ford wrote.

Some Texans just have a superiority complex, a trait that explains most local TV commercials and a whole subcategory of country music. When you combine the two, it can be really scary. I can still recall a Lone Star Beer commercial jingle from the 80s:

Give me love, give me Lone Star, give me Texas
Give me hard work, soft ladies, and good friends
Don’t mess with me or mess around with Texas
The Lone Star is on the rise again (yee-hah!)

I’m not sure what’s worse, the rhythmic structure of this little verse, or the many possibly useful facts that have been displaced by its retention in my memory. But I digress.

Once in awhile, this tendency to self-aggrandization really riles up another state. About 10 years ago there was a debate in the Lege over a proposed motto that was to be added to license plates. Noting that “Texas” is derived from a word (“tejas”) that means “friendship”, one lawmaker proposed putting “The Friendship State” on plates. Apparently, some other lawmaker thought this was not in keeping with Texas’ image (in his mind, anyway) of rugged cowboys and whatnot. He complained that “the Friendship State” was the sort of “wimpy” slogan you’d find in places like Kansas.

Well. Kansas didn’t much care for being called wimpy. One newspaper there held a contest to suggest a more appropriate slogan for Texas’ license plates. There were a number of good entries – “The Blowhard State” and “The Savings and Loan Failure State” were two examples – but the winner was truly the best: “Texas – Half As Big As Alaska”. I don’t know if these suggestions were forwarded to Austin, but if so they must have gotten lost in the mail.

If nothing else, it’s nice to know that our Governor is in tune with tradition. Let’s hope we can get a budget passed without any other state declaring a need for “regime change” here.

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3 Responses to Dubious Distinctions Department

  1. Ginger says:

    I believe it was Molly Ivins who said some years ago that Texas is Mississippi with good roads. Having been on some very back roads (dirt roads) in Mississippi a couple of years ago, I can attest to the superiority of Texas’ roads. But the idea of getting in a pissing match with Mississippi over social services or bidness-friendliness is a little ridiculous.

    How did you write this entry without referring to the Austin Lounge Lizards’ “Stupid Texas Song”?

  2. I’ve referred to “Stupid Texas Song” in a bunch of other posts, so I figured by now it was more or less implicit.

  3. FHC says:

    Former State Rep. Libby Linebarger used to include a retelling of the license plate motto saga in her “goin’ around and talking to the folks in her district” speeches. It was one of the funniest damn political stories I have ever heard–and in Texas, that’s saying something.

    Sigh. I’ve suddenly gotten all homesick.

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