Thursday, March 31, 2005

this just in from my Sister, from the Austin American Statesman

Flub flummoxes Senate into rare silence

Amarillo lawmaker's cheerleader crack reverberates

By Mike Ward

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The debate was supposed to be about chuck wagons, not cheerleaders.

But before the Senate on Wednesday could vote to designate the frontier icon as the official state vehicle, a good-natured debate went just a tad off the trail. Off into a ditch, actually, and the Senate was briefly left dumbfounded.

The verbal misstep occurred as Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, was debating his resolution about the chuck wagon, invented by Charles Goodnight in 1866.

After a fusillade of joking and derisive questions on what he thought was a serious bill -- "Should we call it the Charles Wagon?" "Can we also designate the low-rider as the official state urban vehicle?" -- Seliger shot back over the microphone when asked if he would answer another question:

"I've already yielded more than a cheerleader at a drive-in."

The Senate Chamber was hushed. Jaws dropped. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst quickly admonished the Senate to move ahead. Dewhurst later said he had not heard Seliger's comment.

After the resolution was approved, an embarrassed Seliger then blamed his remark on "incipient Tourette's syndrome," though he said he doesn't actually have the disorder.

Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, a former cheerleader, said she didn't hear the remark, either. "But I'm sure he meant nothing by it."

"I think the next bill I do will be for motherhood," Seliger later said.

mward@statesman.com; 476-3640


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