Opening remarks to the National Governors Association

My bird is a mighty bird. Spread your wings and fly like an eagle. Yeah, that'd be a trip, wouldn't it? I mean, if this thing just got up and flew away. Saw something like that happen once, back when I was a youth. Not a golden bird, something even weirder. It was a statue of Sam Houston riding a horse, and I swear I saw that statue salute me. Could have been my eyes playing tricks on me, could have been a miracle, either way, it's all the same.

You know Sam Houston, don't you? He was governor of Tennessee before he ever moved to Texas. Liked to hang out with the Indians. The Cherokees. Used to be a lot more of them in those days. They'd hunt and fish and occasionally get into the firewater, which in the Cherokee language was called kastoofuh.

Old Sam had himself a lot of adventures, like getting shot in the belly at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. At any rate, he ended up, just like me, moving to Texas, where he got himself elected as delegate from Nacogdoches to the Convention of 1833 at San Felipe. It didn't have any other name. Just 'the convention'.

 See, Mexico was getting awfully uppity, and it was about time to take Texas away from them if they couldn't be a little more reasonable. Wasn't going to happen. They don't teach this in school much anymore, but you know what those Mexicans did? They took Steve Austin and threw his rear end in jail. No charges. Nothing.

So what do you think? Should I do the same thing to Doug Wead? I mean, now that I have the tapes back and all. I had Gonzales take a look at it, and he thinks that embarrassing the president could be construed as a terrorist act. And if not, we can get Congress to start moving on the issue.

It's funny, isn't it? Here we have the Mexicans throwing Steve Austin in jail for no reason at all, and now we have a Mexican Attorney General. And the capitol of the greatest country on earth has a football team named after the Cherokees. And the Redskins are coached by NASCAR great Joe Gibbs, who's a white man. Only in America.

Sam Houston was there when Texas declared it's independence from Mexico, and in a blink of the eye he became commander in chief of the Texas army. That's something we have in common, I'm proud to say. Something else we have in common - and I'm skipping over the war, because everyone knows who won - was that Sam Houston was elected President of Texas. Most people don't know that Texas had it's own president, but they did, and that man was Sam. Elected twice, with a gap in the middle.

Notice how I'm not fumbling around with my words? There's a good reason. I'm drinking again, but only in moderation. Moderation, that's the key. A couple of drinks can help relax a president, and I'm sure that the American people don't want to see their president wound up too tightly. A nervous president is a risky president. That's what I've come to believe.

Not that there's anything wrong with risk. It's a risky world out there, which makes me wonder what on earth I was saying a minute ago. No, our troops... listen up. You want to talk about risk? Sam Adams wasn't afraid of the risk involved when he threw all that British tea into the ocean.

But we're talking about Sam Houston, and the best part of the story is that he stood up for what he believed. He didn't care what anybody else thought. When he was governor of Texas, and everybody wanted to secede from the Union - this just a few years after joining - he said no, no, a million times no. So they removed him from office, but he didn't care, because he did what he knew was right. That's why they called old Sam 'The Raven' and wrote that poem about him. When Sam said 'never more', he meant it.

So, anyway, it's great to have all you governors here in one room today. I'll tell you a little secret, and it relates back to what I was saying about risk. When they told me I had to meet with the NGA today, I thought they were talking about the National Golfers Association. That's right. I had an inspirational story about Sam Snead I was going to tell. And when I saw it was you all, I said, that ain't going to fly, and the rest is history. Very recent history, but history nonetheless. I'm looking forward to working with you all, and I'm excited about the next four years. Thank you all for coming, and we'll get to some Q & A as soon as I have the reporters escorted out.


2005, Mark Hoback