February 5, 2005: Headlines: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Kinky Friedman for real? Voters may not care

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Kinky Friedman for real? Voters may not care

Kinky Friedman for real? Voters may not care

Kinky Friedman for real? Voters may not care

Friedman for real? Voters may not care

By Bud Kennedy

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

A crowd gathered outside the Alamo this week hoping that Kinky Friedman would give Texans a real governor's race.

So far, the cowboy humorist is only offering to redefine the concept of a political party.

From the opening charity plug for Farouk & Friedman's Olive Oil to the last fiddle notes from Asleep at the Wheel, Friedman's first campaign rally Thursday morning had all the seriousness of a Luckenbach chili cookoff.

Sometime between the Billy Joe Shaver song and the moment Friedman asked kiddingly for a whiskey shot -- at 9 a.m. -- it must have dawned on reporters that he meant it when he said this is not a political campaign but a "spiritual calling."

Friedman, 60, of Medina, won't campaign seriously, although he says he is a serious candidate.

He won't be full of policy-wonk ideas or focus-group-approved political doubletalk.

What he will be is a lot of fun.

So far, Democrats have ignored him. They wish he would shut up and go away and not hurt their yet-to-emerge candidate.

Republicans may take Friedman more seriously. A spokesman for Perry's campaign watched Friedman's announcement on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning show and said, "It appears that the Democrats are not the only ones who have been smoking something."

I don't think he was talking about Friedman's Cuban cigar, a Hoyo Epicure No. 2.

Friedman said Perry "spends more time ironing his shirt than he spends ironing out the problems of Texas." But Friedman also said that he is running to solve the gridlock over education and against politics in general, not just against Perry.

"It's not a question of what Rick has done for us," he said.

Although that is a good question.

"We have to get rid of the whole politics-as-usual approach," Friedman said. The Texas political system is "totally corrupt," and he wants to "uplift" Texans and restore Lone Star State pride.

Along the way, he'll save a few homeless dogs and cats at his Hill Country animal rescue ranch and also promote his new mystery novel, Ten Little New Yorkers, to hit bookstores next month.

Thirty years ago, Friedman was a satirical Austin country and folk singer with a band, the Texas Jewboys, that opened for Bob Dylan.

Twenty years ago, he was welcoming touring musical acts as the host at the Lone Star Cafe in New York.

Fifteen years ago, he reinvented himself as a humorist and mystery novelist, which led to a Texas Monthly column.

Former Texas Monthly music writer and editor Joe Nick Patoski, a Fort Worth native, said he doesn't always agree with Friedman politically.

"But the guy is a marketing genius," he said.

Patoski said two questions about Friedman's maverick campaign remain unanswered.

"First, has Kinky matured as a raconteur into more of a sage, a Mark Twain-type figure?"

And: "If Pappy O'Daniel could do it, who's to say Kinky might not?"

Texas has a history of electing bandleaders. Decades before Minnesota elected a wrestler and California an actor, Texas voters chose Gov. W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, the radio host for the Light Crust Doughboys' country music shows from Fort Worth.

O'Daniel won by promoting a song, Beautiful Texas. But he didn't launch his campaign on a national news network.

In a poll on a San Antonio TV news site Friday, about half of more than 600 Web readers said they would choose Friedman.

On the Houston Chronicle Web site, 60 percent of more than 4,000 readers said Friedman has a chance to become governor. Only 16 percent of those voting said they don't give him a shot.

Nearly one-fourth of those voting chose "Who cares? It'll be fun to watch."
Bud Kennedy's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. (817) 390-7538; bud@budkennedy.com

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Malaysia; Writing - Malaysia; Humor



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