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We had drinks. Bullock told of a horrible Christmas he spent alone and sick in a rundown hotel room after one of his divorces. Then about another Christmas when he and other misfits got together to cheer each other up, but he wound up hiding in a back room so he could cry unnoticed. We both cried. We had more drinks. “I love you like a brother,” Bullock said. He gave me the bottle and fifty dollars and saw me off to San Angelo, where, he reminded me, a woman who cared about me was waiting. He was right, and it was a good Christmas after all. There were about 3,000 employees in the comptroller’s office in 1977, and it would have been nearly impossible for Bullock to know all of them. But like a politician running for mayor of a small town, he was intent on knowing at least something about each one, or as many as a cranial database could absorb. He sat for hours in his rocking chair reading personnel files and tucking away tidbits for future use. Then, in a conversation with a staff member, he would mention an item of personal information he had gleaned from the filesalma mater, birth date, number of children. Was it to let them know he was interested in them or to let them know that he knew things? Was he Kennedy or Amin at that moment? No one could be certain. The employee might be pleased that the boss was interested in him or her. More often, he or she was nagged by the questions. Has he been checking up on me? Why? Now and then, they found that he used that information about them in ways that were contradictory to his public persona of a politician given to wrathful rampages and vengeful plots. A few months after he became Bullock’s chief of staff, Ralph Wayne’s fourteen-year-old daughter was killed in an automobile accident in Brownwood. After attending his daughter’s funeral, Wayne returned to the Austin townhouse he had rented but had not taken the time to furnish with a television. In his bedroom, he found a large Sony Trinitron and a note from Bullock: “I know you won’t be sleeping much, so I thought this would help.” A couple of days later, Wayne flew his private plane to South Padre Island, rented a condo, and planned to spend some time working through his grief by reading and walking the beaches and jetties in solitude. He spent a day on the sand under a gloomy overcast and returned to shelter before the rain came. He stayed up all night, finally fell asleep at six o’clock in the morning, and was awakened by a knock on the door at ten-thirty. Wayne, telling the story to Texas Monthly: I opened the door and its Bullock. He said, “You all right? Family’s looking for you. Hell, everybody’s looking for you.” I said, “Yeah, I’m all right.” He got up and left. He knew the numbers on my airplane and tracked me down. Found it at the Cameron County airport. Even Ben Barnes, an old nemesis about whom Bullock had once vowed to “tell a lie a day” for the rest of his life, got an unanticipated glimpse of a curiously conciliatory comptroller. After losing his race for governor in 1972, Barnes returned to Brownwood to work for his friend and benefactor Herman Bennett. For nearly a decade he had no contact with Bullock. One day, out of the blue, he received a phone call: Bullock was flying into town and wanted to meet at the Brownwood airport. Not knowing what to expect, Barnes agreed, and the two met in a hangar where Bullock’s plane was being serviced. It was a short but memorable encounter. “We’ve hated one another long enough,” Bullock said. “We ought to be friends.” They shook hands, and Bullock departed. A few months after that meeting, Barnes moved back to Austin to join with John Connally in a commercial real estate development business. They had been masterful politicians, but, at least in this instance, were hapless businessmen. Their development company began at a time when the Texas real estate market was in a silent decline that was about to become a thunderous collapse. The day after they filed for bankruptcy protection, Bullock showed up at Barnes’ office, handed him $10,000, and said, “Just pay me back when you can.” Employees told of thank-you letters coming to his office from people they had no idea he had helped. At Christmas time, he received cards of thanks for favors he had rendered but had not discussed with anyone. “He helped hundreds of people,” said Nick Kralj, the Quorum Club owner and sometime political operative. “He would help people who were not capable of reciprocating in any manner?’ Ann Richards: Friend or Enemy? Bullock was elected lieutenant governor in 1990, when Ann Richards defeated Clayton Williams for the governor’s seat Bullock had long coveted. The two tangled almost immediately. “Hairy-legged lesbians,” is how Bullock came to refer to Gov. Richards and her female staff. Certainly, the inauguration had been a Bullock-Richards lovefest, but it wilted quicker than a rose in the desert. Bullock sized up the governor’s staff as incompetent, indecisive, too cautious, and in one respect, too fiscally conservative. One thing that didn’t help was that the new lieutenant governor had offered a job to Susan Rieff as an environmental adviser. Rieff accepted, but then was asked to go to work for the new governor. She chose to work for Richards, and Bullock, to say the least, didn’t forget. Richards instituted the ritual of having the lieutenant governor and the House speaker to the governor’s mansion each Monday morning for breakfast and policy discussions. Bullock found the menu decidedly petit. After one breakfast, according to Speaker Gib Lewis, Bullock had about $100 worth of groceries delivered to the governor’s mansion, along with a note: “Next time, I’d like to be fed.” Some of those close to Bullock felt that his resentment of Richards involved more than her breakfast menu or the performance of her staff. He had held some of the most important positions in state government for three decades, but couldn’t seize the gold ring. She had risen quickly from a lowly county commissioner to the insignificant position 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JANUARY 11, 2008