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VIC HINTERIANG BY MOLLY IVINS GOD WE’RE GOING to miss House Speaker Gib Lewis. It’s not often we get a target like that in public office \(come to think of it, it’s not all that rare either look at our last governor, and the one before that, and the one before that and has been providing peerless entertainment at the Capitol for ten years now and his retirement announcement Jan. 8 devastated fans of Texas legislative oddity. Despite the trying legal circumstances surrounding his retirement \(those pesky misdemeanor indictGibber left with his head held high and a song in his heart. In his Farewell Address to the press \(the watchdog of democ”You’ve cost me a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of embarrassment and probably a political career.” Singling out his hometown newspaper El Gibber added, “Why should I do anything for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which has repeatedly over the years absolutely destroyed my ass? I mean, you all, Number One, got my ass indicted on a goddamn speculative deal. You have never shown me any goddamn consideration at all. Why should I show that goddamn newspaper any consideration at all? I mean, just think about it. I don’t need you son of a bitches and apparently you all don’t need me up there. I hate to be that blunt about it.” The Gibber gave us so many moments to . remember. Both his tongue and his syntax regularly got so tangled that his language was dubbed Gibberish and provided the state with wonderful divertissement. He once closed a session by thanking the members for having extinguished theirselfs. Upon being re-elected at the beginning of another session, he told members he was both grateful and “filled with humidity.” When anxious to press forward with legislations, he would urge members to “disperse with the objections.” He once announced, “This is unparalyzed in the state’s history.” Other Gibberisms: “This legislation has far-reach ing ramifistations.” “It could have bad ramifistations in the hilterlands.” “This problem is a two-headed sword: it could grow like .a mushing room.” “We don’t want to skim the cream off the crop here.” “We’ll run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes that booger.” In Gibberish, anything unusual was “adnor mal.” If he was confused “There’s a lot of uncertainty that’s not clear in my mind.” Economic diversity kept coming out as “economic versatility.” And the budget could be cut through “employee nutrition.” This may be apocryphal, but Lewis supposedly once replied to a teacher who criticized his syntax, “What sin tax? I’m not for any sin tax. I’m against all new taxes.” Then there was his immortal performance on Disability Day, 1985: Disability Day is when the state of Texas honors its handicapped citizens for their efforts to get better access to public buildings. We never appropriate a nickel for the purpose, but we always honor their efforts. So both houses just resoluted up a storm, the governor issued a proclamation and the Gibber presided over the joint session. Public access for the handicapped at the Capitol is not all that great, but a bunch of them managed to wedge ir ., bill TIXAS 111111P FEBRUARY 14, 1992 VOLUME 84, No. 3 FEATURES Gibber & Other Misdemeanors By Molly Ivins 3 Redistricting From D to R By Molly Ivins 5 A Tribute to Rupert Koeninger By Ronnie Dugger 7 The Roots of Bush’s Oil Policy By Edwin Rothschild 1 0 Labor Seeks Political Alternatives By James Cullen 12 The Long Struggle for Justice: Doggett’ s dissent on school finance 16 Hard Time for Border Rage By Debbie Nathan 18 Shareholders Gripe About Executive Pay By Deborah Lutterbeck 20 DEPARTMENTS Letter to Readers 2 Dialogue 6 Books & the Culture Oliver Stone Does Dallas By Steven Kellman 22 Afterword 15 The Bill of Rights Needs Help By James C. Harrington 23 Political Intelligence 24 Cover: Design by Diana Paciocco, with apologies to Elvis, JFK, Marilyn and Big foot their wheel chairs into the back of gallery. The Speak read both resolutions and the proclamation and didn’t make hardly any mistakes we were all so proud. Then he looked up at the gallery and said, “And now, would y ‘all stand and be recognized?” But Texas politicians who have difficulty expressing themselves are seldom, in my experience, fools. Perhaps the most poignant moment I ever had with Lewis was the time he called me into his office late one sine die night and asked if I would please stop making fun of the way he talks. “My mother,” he said gently, “was an English teacher.” I damn near cried. It’s not nice to make a proud man look like a clown but I could never resist his more creative manglings of the language. On the other hand, I never mistook him for a fool either. Those who know Lewis only through the headlines’ describing his indictments and ques Gibber & Other Misdemeanors THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3