Video: Kinky for governor

By Mike Taibbi Correspondent
NBC News
updated 5/16/2006 7:34:16 PM ET 2006-05-16T23:34:16

Kinky Friedman, country singer and mystery writer, is looking for another gig.

"The next governor of the great state of Texas" is how he's introduced at campaign rallies these days.

The next governor?  Here's what he says about the job: "The truth is, the governor's like the judge in a big chili cook-off."

And his best asset for that job? What he says he's not — no longer an admitted drug user, and never the dreaded "p" word.

"I'm not a politician. I don't want to be one when I grow up," Friedman says.

Growing up, Richard Friedman — known as Kinky since his hair turned, well, kinky — was always a provocateur.

Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, as he called his '70s country-western group, whose lyrics annoyed many, enraged some but branded him with the stick-in-the-eye anti-political correctness he's brandished in song, in print and now in the governor's race.

Here's Friedman on managing the economy of the country's second-biggest state: "Trust me, I'm a Jew, I'll hire good people."

Friedman's positions on issues?

He's for gay marriage: "They've got a right to be just as miserable as the rest of us."

For legalized gambling — slots for tots, as he calls it: "That'll pay for education."

And for his pal Willie Nelson as the state's energy czar: "You watch what Willie Nelson is able to do!"

Who's Friedman seriously?

"I know some sane people who are going to vote for him," says one man at a recent campaign rally. 

Friedman's political team helped propel Jesse Ventura from the pro wrestling ring to the Minnesota governor's mansion.

"You know, Ventura didn't hit 10 percent until six weeks out," says campaign director Dean Barkley.

And, increasingly, political pundits who see Gov. Rick Perry as vulnerable, see Friedman as an independent with buzz.

"If people are still disgusted with the 'politics as usual' in the state, then Kinky's got an excellent chance," says R.G. Ratcliffe with the Houston Chronicle.

And now that he's on the ballot, his stock lines — "I'm 61 years old, which is too young for Medicare, and too old for women to care" — will have to win him more than just a few laughs.

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