CAN A SINGING JEWISH COWBOY BE TEXAS GOVERNOR? KINKY FRIEDMAN THINKS TEXANS WILL VOTE FOR HIM BECAUSE HE'S HONEST AND HE'S NOT A POLITICIAN -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
A former pro wrestler became a governor. An action-movie star not even born in the U.S. did, too. But can a Jewish country singer who is not exactly a rock star and who has no political experience get elected in a state like Texas in 2006? Kinky Friedman thinks he can and tells Morley Safer why in a report to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Jan. 22 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Friedman's perceived drawbacks are just the assets he thinks will work with voters. "Politics is the only field in which the more experience you have, the worse you get. And I think that musicians can better run this state than politicians. And hell, beauticians can better run the state than politicians," he tells Safer.
When reminded that musicians are often associated with "bad habits," Friedman counters with his trademark humor. "Ok, so we're not going to get a lot done early in the mornings," he says. "But you know what [musicians] are? They're honest. They're honest. And I want people, in [my] administration that don't care about the Republicans and don't care about the Democrats, but care about Texas," says Friedman.
Democrats, Republicans -- they're all the same to Friedman, who is running as an independent. "The Democrats and Republicans are the same guy admiring himself in the mirror. And if an alternative is on that ballot in Texas, I guarantee you, Texans are going to take it. The politicians don't know this yet, but the people do," he tells Safer.
Friedman was a country singer who earned enough attention with controversial songs like "They Ain't Making Jews like Jesus Anymore" to appear on tour with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. His gubernatorial campaign is getting attention, too. In part, that's because Friedman has never learned to censor himself or tailor his political opinions to a party line. His platform is a welter of contradictions: he believes in school prayer and gay marriage, he's campaigning as a champion of Texas teachers, and wants to find a creative way to solve Texas's border problems with Mexico.
In the past, Friedman has earned some strange looks with his irreverent humor, at times comparing himself to another controversial figure -- Jesus Christ. "Well, I just said that-- that Jesus and I were both Jewish and that neither of us ever had a job, we never had a home, we never married and we traveled around the countryside irritating people," Friedman says. "Now, if that's comparing myself to Jesus-- I don't really think it is. But, the Jesus in my heart is a Jesus with a sense of humor. And, personally, I think he'd be enjoying my campaign as much as anybody right now," he says.
But a Jewish jokester elected governor in the Bible-belt state of Texas? "Absolutely," Friedman tells Safer. "Listen-- I tell people, trust me, I'm a Jew, I'll hire good people."