Is Kinky Friedman the Next Governor of Texas?

Platforms Include Education, Biodiesel, Criminal Justice

Editor’s note: The new CMT series Go Kinky premieres Friday (Feb. 17) at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

Kinky Friedman is running for governor of Texas — seriously. Or maybe not seriously. It’s hard to tell sometimes. First, he has to get on the ballot, which is extremely tricky for an independent candidate. In his race against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, Friedman has to get 45,000 handwritten and verified signatures on a petition in just a matter of weeks, but only from those voters who choose to skip the upcoming primary.

Here, exactly as he said it, are Friedman’s thoughts on a variety of topics, including apathy, Indian casinos and how Willie Nelson can help the state.

Convincing People to Vote: We think that it’s not Kinky Friedman vs. Rick Perry. It’s Kinky Friedman vs. apathy. If we get a big turnout, I win. Almost everybody agrees with that. The last thing Rick Perry wants to see is a big turnout. That’s the last thing he wants to see. And that’s a shame because our elected leaders ought to want to see democracy in action — instead of the last turnout, which was 29.3 percent. For governor! $100 million spent, 29 percent vote. It’s sick. If we could get it up to 40 percent, I’m governor.

Proposing “No Teacher Left Behind”: The idea behind that is that teachers are getting screwed in Texas and so are the retired people. Only a dumbass — a real dumbass — wouldn’t understand the value of a real education. … We’re not even educating them. We’re teaching them to test [on statewide standardized tests]. They won’t know enough about the past, the future or the present. Teachers have got to be put back in charge. … You’ve got to appoint the right people simply because they’re the right people — not because they’re somebody’s roommate. That’s a big issue. That’s all patronage and politics. Every governor does the same damn thing. They’ll appoint their cronies. I’m telling you right now, the people who are appointed better damn well have seen the inside of a classroom. They better have teaching time and a teaching certificate. It’s crazy to have some MBA come down here and tell people what to do about education.

The Texas Enterprise Fund: The governor set up an enterprise fund [financed with $390 million from the state's economic stabilization fund] designed to bring businesses to Texas. All of the surveys are showing that the big companies don’t care about money because they know they are going to get a sweetheart deal anyway. If a giant company wants to open an office here, they’re going to get great tax breaks. Or any place. The money doesn’t lure them. What they check first is the educational rank of the state and then the technological rank of the state. When they check education, they don’t even bother with technology because we’re 50th! Dead last! So, that enterprise fund could be used for mental health and retardation or one of the other programs that this administration has gutted.

Wearing Waylon Jennings’ Vest: Do you know about this vest right here? It’s such a nice little connection there, of him saying, “Take it. It’s yours.” That’s what we tell people about our campaign: “Take it. It’s yours.” Take it to heart, folks, and I think they have. It’s a little early to say that. Anything’s possible. That’s the beauty of this and what makes this thing so interesting.

Biodiesel: The oil companies are ready for biodiesel. The adjustment from leaded to unleaded was much more complicated than going from gas to biodiesel. Everywhere you look, the studies are now showing that 30 percent of the toxins that school kids absorb come from the school bus itself. Look, if that’s even close to being true, what are we doing? Honest to God, what are we doing? We’ve got this stuff that if the governor worked with a guy like Willie Nelson, you could have co-ops all over the state, and the farmers would be working. The truckers and the diesel drivers would be able to get this stuff easily, which would create a whole new industry and a whole new model for America. We wouldn’t be slaves to the Middle East. As I say, we would stop the Saudis from dancing to the jukebox and the rest of us dancing to the tune, which is exactly what’s happening now. It’s biodegradable. It’s cheaper. Why wouldn’t you?

Criminal Justice: Arlo Guthrie told me what his dad told him: “The more laws you make, the more criminals you’re going to have.” We’ve got more prisoners [in Texas] than the entire population of Vermont right now. We’ve got more prisoners than the population of Alaska. Most of them are nonviolent drug offenders, so some of these have got to be rehabbed. We’ve got to get our priorities straight so we can take the sex offenders and lock them up and throw away the key. We don’t have room for them. Is that a good system? You’ve got a guy in for a couple of joints, and then you’ve got a sex offender that you don’t have room for? Nonsense. Ridiculous. That’s not common sense.

What He’ll Do First: I’m looking forward to opening the Indian casinos because so many have been closed down, I think quite arbitrarily. Hell, there are only two of them. There are three in all, and two have been shut down. They’ll be opened by executive order, just like that. … I’ll do it because of what the American Indian has given us in wartime and the patriotism on display. It’s a great sacrifice. They deserve that. They don’t deserve some twisted, misguided, moralistic, quasi-religious reason to shut down their casinos when we already have a lottery. Don’t you understand? We’re already gambling here. Don’t shut it down saying the Lord doesn’t want gambling. Texas already has it.

Sleeping: I don’t sleep much. As I like to say, I’ll sleep when I’m governor.