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Kinky II: The Ego Returns … and This Time It’s Serious!

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The sequel to Kinky Friedman’s 2006 “Occasionally Amusing Humorist for Governor” campaign got off to a less-than-roaring start this week. Unlike in ’06, when the Kinkster kicked off his independent run for the office with a sunrise rally and Don Imus broadcast at the Alamo—followed quite logically by a bar run—the ultimate New Democrat launched his 2010 effort with a rather sleepy three-day media tour. Whether this was because Friedman couldn’t scare up the money for a rally, after spending nearly $5 million to win 12 percent of of vote last time, or whether it was intended as a way of indicating how Truly Serious he is about the job this time, is anybody’s guess. But Texas media outlets, who could barely be bothered to notice the more serious Democratic candidacy Hank Gilbert announced the previous week, were drawn to the Kinky Show like flies to … honey? Yours truly has resisted the temptation thus far. But given the fact that Friedman is the only announced Democratic candidate known to more than five or six Texans, it does seem appropriate to ask: What have we learned about Kinky II, besides the fact that it almost surely has no more chance of ultimate success than the original? Well, for starters: Losing Can Actually Swell Your HeadAs he held forth for reporters who couldn’t miss the opportunity to revive their pet Kinky puns from ’06, Friedman compared himself to—are you ready?—former Gov. Ann Richards and presidents John  Kennedy and Barack Obama. (What? No Washington, Jefferson or Churchill?). “My approach is very similar to Ann Richards’, very similar to Obama’s or JFK’s,” he said. “It’s one of exciting people, inspiring people.” To reinforce the point, he worked up a new slogan: “We’ve got a smart president, and now we need a smart governor.” (Insert your own sarcastic retort here.) Lesson-Learning Sure Is Tricky Friedman went around saying he’d “learned his lesson” from ’06. Not that he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hades of becoming governor of Texas, but this: “I’ve seen the light. I should have run as a Democrat last time.” Of course! It had nothing to do with embarassing answers to questions about issues and racial humor! Kinky’s Ambitions for Texas Are Boundless “I don’t have all the answers for education,” he said. “I just know that we have the money, and if we had the leadership and the management, we could move past Mississippi and Louisiana.”It Ain’t All Smoke and One-Liners “I’d like to see a three-year moratorium on all insurance-rate hikes,” Friedman told the Houston Press.”I’d like to see us elect the insurance commissioner instead of having him appointed by the governor. I want to see teachers get a $3,000 pay raise across the board. I want the TAKS test out of there and teaching to the test gone. I want us to teach kids how to think for themselves. I want all toll roads gone – I want to ban toll roads and buy back the ones we now have. It’s a public trust. We pay our taxes, the state builds roads.” Oh, and he wants to require drug testing for holders of state office. …But the One-Liners Can Still Rock “I think it’s time for Texas to secede from Rick Perry,” Kinky kept saying. He’s a Bitch to Describe What shall we call him? Reporters were all over the map. Dallas Morning News: “Singer, humorist and author of mystery novels.” Austin Chronicle: “Kinky ‘Crackheads and Thugs’ Friedman.” Associated Press: “Austin author-entertainer.” Austin American-Statesman: “the author-musician who railed against the two-party system as an independent candidate for governor three years ago.” No Truer Democrat Hath Texas Asked what he had in common with members of the party he helped keep out of the governor’s office in 2006, Friedman said: “We’re on the same page with just about everything: ethics reform, education…” Then he ran out of commonalities. (To be fair, he could have mentioned health-care reform, one issue he did get ahead of the curve on in ’06.) Commented Democratic consultant (and online er, humorist) Harold Cook: “He only decided to run as a Democrat when all his other options failed.”Dude Needs a Webmaster As he made his statewide announcement tour, the Texans for Kinky site—last updated on Aug. 21—made no mention of it. …and Maybe a Media Person Members of the press were kindly invited to interview the Kinkster on his announcement tour—right around the time that it started. Endorsements Are Flooding In While no Texas media outlet could hold itself back from mentioning the announcement tour, skepticism ran rampant in the reports. (“If he didn’t win in 2006, he can’t possibly pull it off in 2010,” his own press secretary from ’06, Laura Stromberg, told the Statesman). But one powerful media monolith seems poised to make an early endorsement: Online Casino Advisory, which hailed Kinky’s “serious campaign to be elected governor of Texas,” noting that “one of his prized ideas is bringing casino gambling to the state.” Related News: It’s All Figured Out! Friedman talked about giving teachers significant raises, making toll roads free and building infrastructure. When KERA-TV asked how he planned to pay for such things, an intricate scheme was unfurled: “Do it all with casino gambling.” At Least He’ll Move Some UnitsJust as a pure coincidence, Kinky’s latest book, Heroes of a Texas Childhood, hits stores soon. Asked by the Statesman’s Jason Embry whether he was using his candidacy to promote his book, Friedman said, “This is just fortuitous. It’s what I do. I’m an author.” He added he’d like to make the new tome mandatory reading in Texas schools.