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But Seriously, Folks

The humorist and musician takes a nip at his Austin campaign headquarters:
The humorist and musician takes a nip at his Austin campaign headquarters: "All politicians speak in one-liners and sound bites. They're just not as funny as mine." (By Thao Nguyen -- Austin American-statesman Via Associated Press)

He ambles into the living room, which houses a pool table, and shoots a quick game of nine-ball. Then he heads to the bedroom to pack his bags.

It's another long day on the campaign trail. He was up at dawn to address a convention of teachers at an Austin hotel. Then he held a quick news conference, revealing, among other things, that he prefers campaigning among Hispanics because "their food is better." Now he's heading to Houston, first stop on a four-day campaign swing.

Jewford stuffs their suitcases into the campaign's rented Chevy Trailblazer, then gets behind the wheel. Kinky rides shotgun and fires up a cigar.

For the next several hours, he keeps up a steady stream of jokes, gripes and stories. He calls Democrats and Republicans "the Crips and the Bloods." He grumbles that election law forbids campaigns to pay the candidate. "And my staffers," he adds, "are such officious, honest [bleeps] that I can't suck any bucks out of the campaign." And he complains about people who complain that his speeches are full of one-liners: "All politicians speak in one-liners and sound bites. They're just not as funny as mine."

He quotes Mark Twain. He quotes Oscar Wilde. He quotes a pig farmer he met while campaigning: "You ain't worth a damn," the farmer told Kinky, "but you're better than what we got."

He puffs on his cigar a while, then lets it go out and stuffs it into his pocket. A few minutes later he retrieves a different half-smoked cigar from his pocket and ignites it.

"Churchill said cigars are 'gamier when resurrected,' and he was right," he says.

Cruising into Houston on Interstate 10, the Trailblazer runs into a traffic jam. This makes Kinky cranky. He gripes about the traffic. He gripes about Houston. He calls his campaign headquarters to gripe about the next item on his schedule -- taping an ad for the Houston Comets, a women's professional basketball team.

"I don't like basketball and I don't like women's basketball," he grumbles into his cellphone. "If it was roller derby, it would be different."

He listens for a while, puffing away. "All right, I'll do it," he says, "and in September you'll have your candidate in a mental hospital."

He hangs up, then starts trying to figure out what to say in this ad. It's got to be something different, something funny, something . . . Kinky . He tries out a few jokes but rejects them. Then it comes to him -- the perfect line. He starts grinning mischievously.

The Trailblazer pulls into a parking garage beneath the Toyota Center, where the Comets play. A young woman leads Kinky into a TV studio and sits him down behind a fake anchorman desk. It's the Comets' 10th anniversary, she explains, and Texas celebrities are taping greetings that will be played at the arena during games.


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