Kinky Friedman, irreverant country singer, satirist and self-proclaimed "equal opportunities offender", was his usual ebullient self as he bounded on to the stage at the latest stop in his remarkable campaign to become governor of Texas.
"You know the definition of politics?" the former frontman of the Texas Jewboys band asked a packed audience at the Flying Saucer bar in San Antonio. "Well, 'poli' means more than one and 'tics' are bloodsucking parasites!"
Despite a racism row over a 26-year-old tape of him using the word "nigger" during a comedy routine, Friedman appeared relaxed. "I offend everyone," said the man whose best-known musical hit, They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus No More, took satirical swipes at just about every group.
"I have always used humour as a weapon to attack bigotry. I don't pretend bigotry doesn't exist. I'm a realist, not a racist. I've campaigned against racism for years but this is the price you pay for taking on the entrenched interests of the two-party system. Somebody organised this hit job pretty well, but they only attack you when you're carrying the ball, and we're carrying the ball."
He outlined his eclectic political platform: his social policies range from support for prayer in school and more police on the streets to backing gay marriage and decriminalising marijuana to clear space in prisons for real criminals "like paedophiles and politicians". Friedman says he has not touched hard drugs since 1985.
He has a predictably unconventional plan for dealing with the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico. As well as deploying 10,000 National Guards along the border, he proposes placing five Mexican generals in charge of their side, putting $2 million in a holding account for each and deducting $10,000 for every illegal caught crossing. "It's a joke but it also happens to be a good idea."
Sunday Telegraph 10/1/2006