Turkeys of the Year

In a highly competitive 2009 field, Governor Rick Perry is the biggest gobbler of them all.

"Oh man, that's just a misprint, man. Don't worry about that at all. Look — to make it up to you I'll give you 20 percent off Sunday in the Park with G."

His chain of "Pimp My Saab" outlets. D was planning to cut corners on the air-cooled glove compartment, and his windshield wipers would only have 32 different speeds.

The Sur Le Table line of kitchen goods. See? You fell for it, too. It's Sur La Table, bitchaz. By the time you figure out your $265 La Creuset bouillabasse pot should be a $265 Le Creuset bouillabaisse pot, you are out of le luck.

Communicating with players was never a Cecil Cooper specialty.
Chad Crowe
Communicating with players was never a Cecil Cooper specialty.
Financial mastermind Stanford is now getting in prison fights over who can use the phone.
Chad Crowe
Financial mastermind Stanford is now getting in prison fights over who can use the phone.

Fake co-ed softball leagues. He'll take your money, he'll set up three-hour meetings so you can talk endlessly about rules and schedules, he'll agree that players must wear baseball pants and socks even though it's a freaking softball league...and then he's far away, spending your fees as you show up at a quadruple-booked field with your $300 bats, $70 gloves and $50 bags.

Hummus 2 Go. "Sir, I called in my order for hummus, pita, cilantro and whole chickpeas over an hour ago!! Mad Men is about to start!!"

"Oh, it's coming, it's coming, ma'am. Definitely. Just keep waiting. Really. In the meantime, can I interest you in some Sur Le Table or cell phones?"

Oh, Willie D. It sure don't look like you're goin' out like a soldier.

Turkey Stereotype of the Year:
Allen Stanford

As 2009 began, Houston was slowly and finally emerging from its worldwide reputation for being home to some of the biggest financial scammers of all time.

Ken Lay was gone, and a new series of jaw-dropping financial con artists were tied to other cities. As the Bernie Madoffs of the world started to grab all the attention, Houston — and Texas — began to breathe a sigh of relief.

Then came Allen Stanford.

If it takes bizarre flamboyance to attract media ink, Stanford had it in spades: Originally from Mexia and Waco, he had become "Sir Allen," living in Antigua, spending millions on mansions, yachts and cricket.

So what? Trouble was that his company was started, and still based, in Houston. TV crews gleefully aired footage of federal agents gathering up evidence at the Galleria-area headquarters.

Once again, Houston was ground zero for (alleged) financial scamsters.

And boy, did Stanford make it easy to paint Texans as free-spending, tasteless yahoos whose boorishness was exceeded only by their garishness.

Here is the distinguished Telegraph of London, describing the epochal moment when Stanford landed a helicopter (one with his logo on it, which later turned out to have been rented) on the hallowed grounds of the Marylebone Cricket Club to issue a challenge to play his Stanford All-Stars in a match. Just to keep things extra subtle, he carried $20 million in a glass box.

"Indelible now in the sport's memory is the moment last year when Stanford's helicopter was given permission to land at Lord's as no mortal before (for MCC kowtowed as much as anyone), and Stanford was greeted by [England & Wales Cricket Board] chairman Giles Clark as the saviour of English cricket. Louis XIV, the Sun King himself, might have considered the cringing and fawning a touch excessive."

To which Stanford no doubt replied, "Louis XIV?" I got summa his funiture!!!" Or maybe not.

Stanford is living decidedly less high on the hog these days, according to his attorney.

He has complained about the conditions of his federal cell in Conroe, suffered heart ailments and even gotten in a fight that resulted in a mild concussion, a broken nose and two black eyes.

"It wasn't so much of a fight as some guy jumped him from behind and pummeled him," says attorney Kent Schaffer.

What was the dispute over? Some disagreement concerning multimillion international money deals?

"It was a dispute over using the phone,"Schaffer says.


Schaffer says his client is depressed, being cut off from friends and family. He also is confident of an acquittal, by the way, and thinks it's ridiculous that Stanford is not allowed out on bond.

"He was in the city for months when everyone knew there was an indictment coming, and he didn't leave," he says.

There's currently a dispute over who will pay Schaffer's bills that has to be resolved. He doesn't expect to go to trial for at least a year.

An acquittal might remove the stigma of being a con man. But Stanford is never going to get away from the crime of being the guy who once again allowed the world to see us as yokels.

Turkey Mourner of the Year:
Sheila Jackson Lee

Houstonians trembled at the sudden death of Michael Jackson. Not just because he was apparently helped along to the Great Moondance in the Sky by one of our own (Acres Homes doctors represent!), but that the aftermath of his passing would involve two things: a) a funeral; b) lots of cameras.

And everyone around here knows how that equation ends: a + b = c, and c most emphatically equals Sheila Jackson Lee.

Still, even those of us who have watched in awe Jackson Lee's otherworldly ability to thrust herself into camera range wondered how she would be able to pull this one off. Would she claim to be a long-lost relative? Come armed with some bogus committee subpoena and then worm her way onstage?

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