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v v CHAPTER 20 A Walking Miracle E ach year, the Texas legislature attends the Southern Legislative Conference, providing it the opportunity to meet members of other southern state legislatures and learn from each other as to how the states addressed important issues. I became very active in the conference, and I was elected chairman of the Southern Legislative Committee for Children, Youth, and Families. As chairman, I got to choose the location for the conference the following year. I chose San Antonio, Texas, and began working to line up good speakers for the conference. Many states were struggling to develop strong rehabilitation programs for juvenile delinquents. Very few of these programs existed, so most of the juvenile delinquents were sent to the adult prison system, costing taxpayers millions. Research and studies found that many of these juvenile delinquents could not read. When you can’t read, it is hard to find a job. And when you can’t find a job, many turn to crime. This could have been me, if not for Boys Ranch. I asked my staff to research the most successful state rehabilitation programs for juvenile delinquents. They told me it was in Arkansas. Each inmate was assigned a teacher who would work with that inmate one-­ on-­ one. If an inmate could not read, the teacher taught him or her how to read. The teachers worked to identify the inmate’s skills and develop them. It was a very costly rehabilitation program, but it was also the most effective in the nation. Bill Clinton, the governor of Arkansas, was the brains behind this program. So I invited him to the conference to be one of our keynote speakers. 208 • The Grand Duke from Boys Ranch Another hot issue was whether to label the packaging of music that contained adult content and/or bad language. Tipper Gore, the wife of Senator Al Gore, was the leading spokesperson on this issue. I also invited Mrs. Gore to speak at the conference. The first day of the conference , Governor Bill Clinton; his wife, Hillary; Tipper Gore; her husband ; and I went to a great Mexican restaurant on the River Walk in San Antonio for dinner. I thought both Clinton and Gore were brilliant and that both would make great presidential candidates. The rest of the story is history. Years later I attended the inauguration of President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. At another event after Clinton had been elected president, he whispered to me, “Don’t tell anyone about all those margaritas we drank in San Antonio.” Clinton has an amazing memory. My next reelection campaign for the Senate was no different than the others. I traveled to all the small towns in my district at least five times, walking the streets and visiting all the small businesses, schools, coffee shops, and courthouses. I won another term in the Senate. The Sunday after the election in 1986, I was invited to attend my first professional football game—­ the Dallas Cowboys versus the Seattle Seahawks. I had been invited as a guest of Tom White, the local Miller beer distributor. He was a very good friend and supporter of Chet Edwards. Chet Edwards was a senator from Waco, Texas, who came in after me. He and I had become very good friends. Tom told me he was going to be out of town on Thanksgiving Day and that I was welcome to his luxury private suite and that I could invite friends to the game. I asked him if it would be all right if I invited some boys from Boys Ranch. Tom White loved that idea and told me he would make all the arrangements for a Thanksgiving lunch. I agreed to organize everything with Boys Ranch and told him that this would be an unforgettable experience for the boys. I agreed to stay in touch with him. I called Lamont Waldrip, the superintendent at Boys Ranch, and told him about the game and the plans and that we could host forty boys and staff in the suite. Lamont said he had some concerns about Boys Ranch accepting this from a beer distributor. I told him the boys would love it. He told me he would think about it and call me back. A Walking Miracle • 209 A few days later, Lamont called me and told me he didn’t think it was a good idea because it would be too hard to select which boys...


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MARC Record
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