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Rick Perry Gets Texas Monthly's 'Bum Steer Of The Year' Award For Biggest Gaffe (PHOTO)

Rick Perry Texas Monthly

First Posted: 12/15/11 09:59 AM ET Updated: 12/15/11 11:22 AM ET

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has just received the kind of award nobody wants to get.

In the January edition of Texas Monthly magazine, it gives out the "Bum Steer of the Year" award to the person guilty of the "biggest screw-up, gaffe, fumble, stumble, train wreck, or humiliation." This year, the publication has decided that there is no person more deserving than the Lone Star state's governor, Rick Perry.

It caps off a rough couple months for Perry, during which he saw a rapid surge to the top of the GOP presidential primary polls, followed by a quick descent, precipitated primarily by self-inflicted wounds exacted under the klieg lights.

The past few months haven't been easy for Texas Monthly either, the editor writes in a description of the magazine's somewhat painful decision to bestow the badge of humiliation on the holder of the state's top office. The editorial board made steps to resist the urge to shame Perry with the award, but following his excruciatingly extended mental lapse at a debate in November, in which he proved incapable of remembering the third and final federal agency he had promised to eliminate just seconds before, it was given no choice. Perry's defeated "oops" sealed his "Bum Steer" fate -- and the magazine's January cover:

But Perry hasn't hung it up yet. He'll attend a debate Thursday night in Iowa where he'll take one last crack at convincing voters in the upcoming January 3 caucuses that he's the man to go head-to-head with President Obama in November.

Here's the full editor's note explaining and announcing the award:

As most readers know, every January TEXAS MONTHLY picks a Bum Steer of the Year, an honor conferred on whatever individual we estimate has been responsible for the biggest screw-up, gaffe, fumble, stumble, train wreck, or humiliation of the past twelve months. This year, as the above cover (available on newsstands next week) makes pretty darn clear, our Bum Steer of the Year is Governor Rick Perry. Because this is not an award we relished bestowing, we are moved to offer an account of our decision to do so.

No one wants to give the governor a Bum Steer. No one wants to poke fun at the elected representative of 25 million Texans. And in fact, when Perry launched his presidential campaign four and a half months ago, we felt compelled to defend him (a little) from the slings and arrows of a national press corps incapable of seeing a boot-wearing Texas governor as anything other than George W. Bush II. We'd had our differences with Perry, about whom senior executive editor Paul Burka wrote, back in May: "He excels at consolidating and maintaining power but not at using it to move Texas forward." But now that the Texas-mocking Yankee press was approaching, what Texan did not want to circle the wagons?

"We have endured a disproportionate amount of bad writing about our state from journalists who don't know very much about the place, and I for one can't bear to suffer through another campaign of it," Paul wrote, in an August column addressed to the hordes of journalists soon to be clogging the taxi stand at the Austin airport. "I am writing you this note in the hope that it will help you avoid the political and sociological cliches that Texas is subjected to every time one of our politicians seeks the national stage."

Among other things, Paul's column counseled these reporters not to confuse Perry with Bush and to accept that the governor was "cannier than you think he is." The next month, our account of his undefeated electoral history carried the headline "The Great Campaigner." The month after that, we explained his rugged, individualistic "frontier style" and traced the roots of his political persona to Andrew Jackson, the original "Washington outsider."

But already the worm had begun to turn. By November, Perry had completed the first several stages of decline, having devolved from a fantasy GOP savior ("He'll unite the tea party and the chamber of commerce!") to a real-life candidate with real-life challenges ("He'll be fine as long as he can explain his immigration stance!") to a mysteriously awful public speaker ("Is his back bothering him? Is he tired? Doing too much fund-raising?"). Still, as our Bum Steer deadlines approached, we were not moved to confer the lowest honor on our highest office. True, a late October survey of political insiders by the Texas Tribune found that 57 percent of them thought Perry's struggling campaign had hurt the state's image, but we remained firm. The governor had not earned the Bum Steer in our book, and we were torn, like many Texans, between embarrassment at Perry's poor performance and contempt for the way the national media seemed to relish the opportunity to ridicule our state.

Then came that peculiar speech in New Hampshire, the one where he rambled about tomcats and buried gold, deployed more hand gestures and facial expressions than Ron Washington during a two-out rally, and finally finished by embracing a bottle of maple syrup.

Again the media piled on. But were we swayed? Nope. We entered the production cycle for the January issue unconvinced that the governor, for all his stumbles, deserved to be our Bum Steer of the Year. Such things are not to be taken lightly. Only once before had the magazine awarded a governor this individual dishonor, when Dolph Briscoe took the 1976 prize. Though the prospect of Perry on the cover (perhaps riding a steer into the sunset, dragging a dead coyote) was now being discussed around the office with increasing regularity, we remained resolute in our reservations; he had still not done enough.

The end came swiftly, in a matter of seconds. Fifty-three of them, to be exact: the time it took the governor to go from trying in vain to name the third agency of government he would shutter as president to giving up and muttering -- in a phrase that will surely go down, should his campaign expire, as its perfect epitaph -- "Oops." In that moment all our resistance melted away, and we rushed, shaking our heads in disbelief, into the arms of our unquestionable 2012 Bum Steer of the Year. We didn't want to, but we had to




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  • "Oops"

    At the CNBC debate on November 9, Perry <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/rick-perry-oops-video_n_1085336.html" target="_hplink">famously forgot</a> one of the government agencies he would eliminate if elected: <blockquote>"It's three government agencies when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the um, what's the third one there. Let's see," Perry said. He turned to Texas Rep. Ron Paul, looking for some help, but got nothing but a remark from Paul that he would eliminate five agencies. "Oh five," Perry said. "So Commerce, Education, and, uh, the uh, um, um." "EPA?" offered former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. "EPA, there ya go," Perry said as the room exploded in laughter. CNBC moderator John Harwood honed in and pressed Perry: "Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about?" "No sir. No sir. We were talking about the, um, agencies of government," Perry said. "The EPA needs to be rebuilt." "But you can't name the third one?" Harwood persisted. "The third agency of government," Perry said. "I would do away with the education, the um, Commerce, and let's see. I can't think of the third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops."</blockquote>

  • Voting Age Flub

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/rick-perry-gets-voting-ag_n_1119126.html" target="_hplink">During a campaign stop</a> at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, Perry got both the voting age and the date of the 2012 presidential election wrong. "Those of you that will be 21 by November the 12th, I ask for your support and your vote," he said to the students. The legal voting age has been 18 since the 26th Amendment was adopted in 1971. The general election is scheduled for November 6, 2012.

  • New Hampshire... Caucus?

    During a November <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/30/rick-perry-new-hampshire-caucus_n_1120304.html" target="_hplink">interview </a>with Fox News, Perry mistakenly referred to the New Hampshire "caucuses." When asked about the emergence of front runners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, Perry responded, "Americans haven't decided yet at all who they want to lead the Republican nomination, and we're going to be talking about that and we're going to be talking about it in harsh and strong terms over the course of the next four to five weeks as we get ready for those New Hampshire caucuses." New Hampshire holds primaries, not caucuses.

  • Minimum Age To Run For President

    While speaking to Catcher Jones, a seven-year-old from Greenville, South Carolina in December, Perry flubbed the minimum age to run for president. "I'm glad you're not 21," Perry told Jones, who was wearing a t-shirt that said "Future President: Accepting Campaign Donations Now." Perry realized his mistake and added, "Or actually 35."

  • War With Iran

    After a woman in South Carolina asked Perry what he thought about current United States military operations, Perry mistakenly started talking about the wars in Afghanistan and Iran. When an audience member alerted Perry to his error, he joked that his comment "will be on the front page."

  • Revolutionary War

    Following a debate in New Hampshire, Perry met with fraternity brothers at Dartmouth College. When someone asked him about the issue of states' rights, Perry said that one of the "reasons we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown." The Revolutionary War occurred in the 18th century.

  • Decade Mix-Up

    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OMK7La2721Y" target="_hplink">In an interview</a> with CNN last year, Perry got stuck in a time warp. "Washington has abused the Constitution. You go back to the, a decade ago, with Woodrow Wilson..." Wilson was president from 1913 to 1921.

  • Bizarre Campaign Speech

    In October, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/29/video-rick-perrys-unusual-speech-performance_n_1065571.html" target="_hplink">an unusual performance</a> at a speech in Manchester led many to question the candidate's sobriety. Perry later made a statement to dispel rumors that he was drinking or using painkillers during the speech.

  • Bush Was Good At "Defending Us From Freedom"

    During an interview with the <em>Today Show</em> last November, Perry told host Meredith Viera that "Bush did an incredible job, in the presidency, defending us from freedom."

  • "Montomayor"

    While speaking with the editorial board of the <em>Des Moines Register</em>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/09/rick-perry-gaffe-sonia-sotomayor_n_1139541.html?1323463939" target="_hplink">Perry struggled</a> to remember Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's name: <blockquote>"Do you really think he [President Barack Obama] is waging a war on religion?" asked an editorial board member, referring to Perry's recent ad pledging to "end Obama's war on religion" and "fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage" as president. "I do because when you see his appointment of two -- from my perspective, inarguably -- activist judges, whether it was," he said, then trailing off for about six seconds trying to recall her name. "Montomayor," he said. Someone on the editorial board said Sotomayor's name. "Sotomayor and [Elena] Kagan, who are both activist judges," he continued.</blockquote>

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Filed by Nick Wing  |