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Editorial, Nov. 8

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Neighborly advice

Texans remain obsessed with Arkansas, especially Republican Texans. Remember the first President Bush calling Arkansas “the lowest of the low” at a Republican national convention in Houston? Darrell Royal compared Arkansas to Russia — the old Russia. The current President Bush has made his resentment of Arkansas as plain as he ever makes anything. Tom DeLay is said to have complained privately that Arkansans are “too g..d.. honest.”

And now the current governor, Rick Perry, tries to pad a skimpy resume by dissing Arkansas. Perry was asked why Texas was renting a 6,386-square-foot home for $9,900 a month during renovation of the Governor's Mansion, whereas then-governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas had in similar circumstances temporarily moved his family into a donated mobile home. “Texas ain't Arkansas,” Perry sneered.

Arkansas is certainly not Texas, and Arkansas governors not Texas governors, nor Arkansas presidents Texas presidents. America and the world have compared Bill Clinton to both Bushes, and the comparison is all in Clinton's favor. The first Bush was thrown out after one term; the second, thoroughly disgraced, risks lynching if he's seen in public.

Arkansas's Gov. Mike Beebe has accomplished more in 10 months than Perry in 10 years. The Texas governor is known mostly for his hair — thanks to the late Mollie Ivins — and for continuing his predecessor's brisk rate of executions. Capital punishment, not football, is really Texas' favorite sport.

Even a member of their own party is scorned by Texas Republicans if he's from out of state. To them, Huckabee's near-competence, his willingness to save taxpayers' money, are grounds for ridicule. In the Republican presidential race, Perry snubs his longtime neighbor, Huckabee, to endorse the cross-dressing New Yorker, Rudy Giuliani. It's easy to imagine a gowned and wigged Giuliani running his fingers through Perry's luxuriant hair, and impossible to imagine an Arkansas Baptist preacher doing it. Perry was a cheerleader at Texas A&M. That's hard to write or say while keeping a straight face, and it may explain a lot. Doubtless his colleagues at the national governors' conventions have fun with it. Governors can be cruel. And then a wounded Perry goes home and throws the switch on another inmate, and works on his hair? It's a theory.

(Come to think of it, Bush II was a cheerleader at Yale. Trent Lott was a cheerleader at Ole Miss. Now they cheerlead for a war that other people's children fight.)

Texas cannot advance by trying to hold Arkansas back. Don't hate us because we're beautiful. Find something in your own state to be proud of. Stop electing twerps to high office. Ditch the hats.

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