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The Ten Worst Things Texas Has Given to the Modern World

If we were to list all the great, terrific things Texas, Our Texas has given to civilization, we would be here all day. (Two words: Jessica Simpson.)

Unfortunately, Texas has also gifted America and the world with some things the world and America would no doubt like to give back.

There are only ten, in our view, although your mileage may vary.

So, world, sorry about these:

10. Breast Implants Houston was the epicenter for placing stupid-looking foreign objects into the breasts of perfectly fine-looking women so that they could then bleed dry the bank accounts of doctors, bankers and oilmen. (David Schwimmer and Chris Cooper starred in a movie about it.)

There may be some good, subtle implant jobs out there, but the industry seems determined to churn out immobile, plastic-looking titties that fool no one. For this, America, we apologize. Or at least some of us do.

9. Vanilla Ice Dallas's Robert Van Winkle did accomplish one great thing in his career: He ensured that the R&B artists getting ripped off by being sampled on rap songs got paid. Van Winkle Vanilla Ice had to pay up for his first two singles: Wild Cherry sued over "Play That Funky Music," and -- after initially saying he hadn't sampled their "Under Pressure" riff -- he paid Queen and David Bowie for "Ice Ice Baby."

Unfortunately, to help set that precedent, he needed to establish that well-off white kids could become commercially successful trying to he hardcore OGs, and this terrible discovery has affected culture ever since.

8. Tom DeLay If there was ever a more idiotic Congressional proceeding than the impeachment of Bill Clinton, we'd be hard-pressed to know what it was.

Sugar Land's Tom DeLay was the behind-the-scenes impresario of the whole farcical, hypocritical, reckless, wasteful circus, and well, we're sorry. It is only a small relief to watch a desperate DeLay cling to D-List celebrity, like an old silent-screen star in the `40s, with embarrassing episodes like appearing on Dancing With the Stars.

7. Barney When you have a child, there are many times you thank whatever deity you pray for when certain things become clear, like he's healthy, or he's not a whiny pain in the ass. Another great moment, at least for us, was when it became obvious our kid had chosen Thomas the Tank Engine over Barney.

He had flirted with the idea of Barney, because after all it was on TV and therefore magical, so we knew enough that if he was to get hooked, we would eventually go insane. Thomas, on the other hand, offered cleverly done action and the voices of Ringo Starr and George Carlin.

Barney came out of Plano; his godawful song never leaves your head once heard, the plots are insipid and his voice was used at Guantanamo on uncooperative Al-Qaeda leaders.  

6. Dealey Plaza Not the actual plaza itself, which remains a perfectly adequate example of landscaping for three highway ramps going under a railroad bridge. But we're speaking more of, you know, what happened there in 1963.

It was bad enough -- there's no way 58,000 Americans would have died in Vietnam under JFK's watch -- but the assassination triggered a decade of political violence and divisions that still affect us today.

"We're heading into nut country today," Kennedy said to his wife as they headed for Dallas. And indeed they were.

5. The Oil Depletion Allowance Ah, the days when Texas was the center of the oil industry. All of a sudden unimaginable riches flowed into the hands of reactionary racists. These oilmen would have been content keeping the cash, but for one thing: the oil depletion allowance.

A somewhat obscure tax policy, put in place before the really vast Texas oilfields were discovered, it allowed the oilmen a gargantuan tax break. And they were determined to keep it. So they poured unprecedented amounts of cash into buying politicians who wouldn't touch it.

They bought politicos of all stripes, but they tended to especially help those who shared their neanderthal views on race and class and helping the less well-off. It was as if Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck had today's equivalent of billions to hand out to like-minded candidates.

4. Astroturf Give the Astrodome people credit: They at least tried to put in real grass in the facility. But it required too many roof panels designed to let in the sun, roof panels which made it impossible for outfielders to track a fly ball through the air.

So Astroturf was invented, and for decades it was a scourge of sports. Hideous-looking plastic rugs gave a completely different feel to watching a baseball or football game, and it wasn't a good difference. Playing on it was bad enough -- especially, say, in Pittsburgh in 10-degree weather, where the "field" was a fraction of an inch of padding over concrete -- but watching it was also a pain.

They've developed fake turf that's been tweaked enough to look at least semi-natural on TV, so Astroturf isn't as bad as it once was. And the Dome's other offspring -- cookie-cutter baseball/football stadiums -- have all but faded from the scene too.

But it was a bad 30 or 40 years.  

You had to be there, we guess.
You had to be there, we guess.

3. Mark David Chapman Fort Worth represent!!

John Lennon's killer was born in Fort Worth and, although he moved around a lot, he's still a Texas native. A Texas native who shot John Lennon.

Now, anyone who's watched Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr's increasingly desperate attempts to be something other than oldies acts might not be blamed for thinking Lennon would have gone the same route.

But we're pretty convinced that Lennon would have found a way to crack the code, or at least be interesting and surprising in his attempts to do so. So thanks, Fort Worth.

2. Urban Cowboy Not the movie, necessarily; that remains watchable, if only to giggle at John Travolta's accent. And any film with Scott Glenn, Debra Winger and Barry Corbin is going to have its moments.

But the film unleashed a torrent of bad music, worse fashion and very, very unfortunate dancing upon the world. The only saving grace is that Texans suffered the brunt of it.

1. W Again, not the movie, which was fairly enjoyable. Instead we mean the "hyping us into an unnecessary war against a county that didn't attack us" dude, the Man from Midland who lawyered his way to an election win and then went downhill from there.

The list of George W. Bush's failures, disasters and outright taxpayer giveaways to the world's richest is long. He came into office with a balanced budget, and handed his predecessor an economic crisis, debt and deficits we're still trying to recover from.

And remember, he got the opportunity to do this because he had "proven" he could work in a bipartisan manner as governor of Texas. So even though he was a rich preppy WASP who went to the toniest East Coast schools, we as a state have to take the blame for him.

All we can say, world and America, is that for George W. Bush, and the rest of this list, we are heartily sorry.


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