04.29.10

Texas' Gunslinging Governor

Rick Perry recently shot a coyote while jogging. Texas legend Kinky Friedman on why it's easier to defend animals than politicians. Plus VIEW OUR GALLERY of political hunters and duelers from Dick Cheney to Aaron Burr to Sarah Palin.

Hold the presses! A report has just crossed the wires that Texas Governor Rick Perry shot and killed a coyote recently while jogging by himself in the hills outside Austin. Though the shooting occurred sometime around dawn, the precise date of the actual incident has been classified as military intelligence, which, of course, is itself an oxymoron.

One question that came up immediately: Why was the governor jogging alone with a laser-sighted Ruger? “In case of snakes,” Perry replied. This answer, however, while fulfilling the Karl Roveian requirement of plausible deniability, does not hold up to close scrutiny. Every Texan knows that the snakes are not outside Austin, but inside Austin, most of them having been appointed by the governor himself, or being lobbyists friendly to him.

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And what was the governor doing jogging in that remote, hilly area after the fashion of Sirhan Sirhan, party of one? He’d been living there, he said, since the governor’s mansion almost burned down several years ago in an unsolved arson fire. Many Texans have now come to believe that the fire was set by the ghosts of Davy Crockett and Sam Houston in an effort to get his ass out of there.

Every Texan understands, of course, why you might want to go out jogging with a gun. To us, this is perfectly logical, and, thanks to George W.’s concealed weapons law, perfectly legal. Indeed, it is credited with cutting crime in Texas. I don’t carry a weapon myself. So that anyone that wants to shoot me better remember to bring his own gun.

Jesse Ventura, a better man than he was a politician, once said that it is an act of cowardice to shoot anything that can’t shoot back. J. Frank Dobie, the famous folklorist of decades past, was a great admirer of the majestic presence of the lone coyote. The animal was much misunderstood, Dobie claimed, and was only dangerous when it ran in packs or gangs, like people. Dobie believed that coyotes served a useful function in the animal kingdom by winnowing out the sick and the wounded of a species. Perhaps ironically, many hunters claimed to be “culling” the herd, thereby saving it from over-population or starvation.

In the end, Texans will no doubt be divided over whether the governor has destroyed a dangerous predator, or merely murdered Wile E. Coyote, a much-loved children’s cartoon character. All I know is that it’s a hell of lot easier to defend coyotes than it is to defend politicians.

Kinky Friedman is a country music singer, politician, Texas Monthly columnist, the author of a successful mystery series, and was a candidate for Texas governor in 2006. His most recent book is Kinky’s Celebrity Pet Files. You can visit his website here.