The Ghost of Don McLeroy Haunts Texas

Don McLeroy (left) and Thomas Ratliff (right)

To appreciate this news we have to put it in its historical context. Most of you remember last year’s primary election for the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). If not, see Texas SBOE Elections on 02 March, in which we summarized the contests, including the race between Don McLeroy (who lost) and Thomas Ratliff, who defeated him.

Don McLeroy is the creationist dentist whom Texas Governor Rick Perry had appointed as chairman of the SBOE, but the Texas Senate voted to reject that nomination. The disgrace of rejection was largely because McLeroy — a young-earth creationist — had presided over the Texas Science Chainsaw Massacre.

McLeroy’s many supporters — all of them flaming creationists — haven’t been able to accept the situation. You probably remember Discovery Institute Weeps for Don McLeroy. But it wasn’t all just moaning and groaning. The creationists also took action in an attempt to undo the election results.

Early this year we posted McLeroy Supporters Strike Back! The then-acting chairman of the SBOE, Gail Lowe (another creationist appointed by Governor Perry), said that because Ratliff is a lobbyist (which had been widely known during the election campaign) she would seek an opinion from the attorney general on whether he was eligible to serve on the board.

Ratliff out-flanked them by asking the Travis County district attorney to investigate the matter, which was done, and Ratliff was cleared. See Ratliff Beats McLeroy Again. What happened next?

Although it’s technically not relevant to Ratliff’s eligibility, it’s interesting to note that Gail Lowe’s appointment was then rejected by the state Senate, so Rick Perry picked SBOE member Barbara Cargill, yet another creationist, to be acting chairman. See Rick Perry’s Newest Creationist.

But what about that old request for an opinion from the attorney general about whether Ratliff was legally able to sit on the board? That’s been pending all along — until now. In the Austin American-Statesman we read AG opinion: Lobbyist may serve on SBOE. The headline gives away the results, but here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The [attorney general’s] opinion released on Friday declared that “a registered lobbyist who has been paid to lobby the legislative or executive branch on a matter relating to Board business is ineligible to serve on the board.” But if the lobbyist stays clear of board business, there is not violation of the education code, according to the opinion.

Here’s a link to the actual attorney general’s opinion. We continue:

Ratliff said conservative activists and some board colleagues have been trying to stir up controversy over his service because he ousted McLeroy, not because of the merits of the issue.

Jeepers, ya think? Here’s one more excerpt:

He [Ratliff] doubts that the attorney general opinion will put the issue to rest.

No, of course it won’t. Creationists never give up. Let’s move briefly to the Dallas Morning News in which we read Attorney General Greg Abbott says no to certain lobbyists serving on Texas Board of Education. It discusses the same news and says:

Ratliff, who defeated conservative Don McLeroy in the Republican primary last year, said Abbott’s opinion confirmed what he’s believed all along: that none of his lobbying duties conflict with his position on the state board.

“There weren’t any surprises in there,” Ratliff said. “The opinion just more acutely defined the boundaries my clients and I had already been staying well within.”

This is the best part:

But he said he knows McLeroy had friends on the board who are unhappy with him for ousting their ally and won’t stop yet. “They are looking for anything they can do to damage my reputation,” Ratliff said. “It won’t stop here. This isn’t the last chapter in this story.

He’s right. We have no doubt there will be further sightings of McLeroy’s ghost lurking around SBOE meetings, so stay tuned to this blog.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “The Ghost of Don McLeroy Haunts Texas

  1. Just picturing that face coming at me with dental instruments… Brrrrrrrr!! Put a hat on, Don. You’re shiny head is interfering with my satellite reception.

  2. @magpie61: And also imagine him leaning over with those sharp, metal objects and whispering, “Is it safe?”

  3. It’s NOT safe – it’s givin’ me the willies! His head combined with his creationist credentials reminds me of a Moe Howard line: “Why don’t you get a toupee with some brains in it?!”

  4. @magpie61: Sorry if my quote was too obscure. It’s from the movie “Marathon Man”. The evil Nazi-on-the-run Laurence Olivier has the innocent Dustin Hoffman in a dentist’s chair and is torturing him, all the while softly asking, “Is it safe?”

  5. Gary says: “Sorry if my quote was too obscure.”

    I used “Marathon Man” in connection with McLeroy three years ago: Texas Dentist’s Jihad Against Evolution.

  6. SC said:

    I used “Marathon Man” in connection with McLeroy three years ago:

    That was before I had discovered you. But I love the picture in your linked article!

  7. @Gary:
    No, no – it’s not an obscure reference at all. The torture scene in MM, once seen, isn’t easily forgotten. I knew where you were going, I didn’t pursue it because I didn’t want to unintentionally compare McLeroy to a Nazi, not even a fictional one. (Not that that was your intention.) I’ll let the creationist side employ the Hitlerian innuendo. (My taste in outrageous cinematic dentistry runs more towards W.C. Fields, anyway…)

  8. How Christian of these creationists….


  9. Gary, that ref wasn’t obscure for me: I had a nasty shiver in response. That scene is burned into my brain, in the same bunch of synapses my nightmares come from.

  10. But I love the picture in your linked article!

    I love the disclaimer right under the picture! To SC’s point, that’s exactly why I didn’t want to go there (i.e: reference Marathon Man). Because humorless, literal-minded, litigious twits might deliberately choose to take it the wrong way, and so artificially concoct a moral high ground, (their favorite tactic after denial and outright lying). Then – poof! – there goes any hope for honest debate.

  11. @magpie: I understand your idea. I also agree with it. I’ll be careful about Nazi references in the future (and I did not mean to equate any creationist with Nazis).
    @Bob Carroll: Sorry about that! If it helps, think of the chase scene at the end of “Johnny Dangerously” with Alan Hale Jr’s “Calling all cars! Be on the lookout for… oh, get this… duckies and bunnies!”, followed by “Calling all cars! Meet me at O’Doolies! I’m buyin’!”

  12. RetiredSciGuy

    So, Rick Perry has decided to run for prez. If elected, who might he choose for Secretary of Education?

    Gee, ya think he might pick McLeroy? Or maybe Rhonda Storms?

  13. Link doesn’t work, Tomato Addict.