In Houston there was serious work to be done. The candidates wanted to talk about oil to the oilmen, and the sons of oilmen, and those who were not oilmen but had made their money off of the oilmmen.. They wanted to talk about how oil had had a good run, in the U.S. of A., ever since Spindletop blew its top in old PA, and nowhere was that run better than in high, wide, and handsome Texas, with those long-stemmed American beauties -- so where was Cyd Charisse from, was it Amarillo, or was she from Wichita Falls? -- but now it was time to see things in a dfifferent way. So the candidates -- well, Elmo remained silent, but he was there, you could see he approved -- talked about oil, and about Marion King Hubbert, born in San Sabba, Texas, and about Peak Oil, and then we talked about OPEC, and the ten trillion dollars the Arabs had been getting and the ten trilliion they were likely to still get, and how we had to do something about that. And then we told them all about Marion King Hubbert, the boy from San Sabba, Texas, that great geologist and physicist, and about Peak Oil, and about how Hubbert had been right about the United States and its oil production, and he was right about the world's oil production. And then we talked to them about how we just couldn't "produce our way out of it" the way some were claiming, and it was time for Texas to reclaim its right to help get us all out of the fix we were in -- we and the whole world. And they listened. They didn't yell.
And they didn't yell when the Vice-Presidential candidate told them about how we didn't have people in Washington who were facing up to the problem of Islam, and the problem of global warming, and how this reminded us of that old phrase in Stephen Austin's "Fredonia Declaration of Independence," the one about that "imbecile, faithless, and despotic government" -- and they laughed at that, and looked at each other, wondering if these candidates could know as much about Texas as they did, and they couldn't start taking issue with Stephen Austin, not with him being the way he had been, and then the candidates -- well, as per usual old Elmo was silent, very silent, but he was there, people knew he was sitting there, listening to every word -- so it was really just the Vice-Presidential candidate, and he reminded his audience that Sam Houston himself had defined "a leader" -- not "someone taking a leadership role" he said, and the audience laughed,-- as "someone who helps improve the lives of other people or improve the system they live under." And he said real education was going to be the key to everything, and not the shabby semi-vocational training that Texans like other Americans had to put with today, and he promised to bring back and honor the great high school teachers who taught in small schools all over Texas, like the five Misses Morgan, of Wichita Falls, and all the other small-town dedicated teachers who took the children of cowboys and sharecroppers and small farmers and gave them no-nonsense reading, writing, arithmetic. And also penmanship. And also geography. And also manners.
And here came Sam Houston again, "[t]he benefits of education and of useful knowledge [they weren't exactly the same thing for Sam Houston, or for us, said the Vice-Presidential candidate, but both were necessary]. generally diffused through a community, are essential to the preservation of a free government."
He walked into the lion's den, of those oilmen and those corporation executives, with only the introduction provided by Maury Blaffer, the 93-year-old legendary wildcatter (and son of Asa Blaffer), who called him a "Daniel, yea, a Daniel come to judgment," but he had his facts, and his logic, and he made sense. And he told them what no other candidates had told them: that we had to make oil even more expensive, and discourage its use, because dependence on oil sustained the Jihad, and it was ruining the environment, and endangering Galveston, as well as Lower New York, and Shanghai, and half the coasts around the world. Oh, they listened. They listened, when he explained that all their money wouldn't be worth much if Islam took over all those countries in Europe that their wives and children liked to visit. And all their money wouldn't be worth much if they had to live with bodyguards, in gated communities, because everyone else in the county was getting poorer and poorer. And all their money wouldn't be worth much if they turned out to have more in common with some rich people in Moscow or in Beijing than in their own fellow Texans and fellow countrymen, and they had to think about what true patriotism was, and whether they thought that they should be more loyal to their fellow Americans, even if that meant giving up some of that globalization stuff. They listened, they listened very closely. They hadn't ever been talked to like that before. They hadn't heard the arguments about why staying in Iraq was stupid, and why "globalization" led to a race to the bottom and the people who would hurt the most were their fellow Americans. And they hadn't really wanted to think about oil, and about climate change, but they were thinking, and some of them were thinking about solar plants all over sunny Texas, and windmills all over sunny and windy Texas, and others were thinking about nuclear plants, and those start-ups in Austin, and it all began to make sense. And at the end, when the Vice-Presidential candidate finished his speech, and told them that he hoped they believed him when he said that he and Elmo aimed to do right, as Gabby Hayes used to say, for "the whole United States and Texas," they gave the candidates a round of applause that lasted for a long, long time, and no one present could remember a time when the applause for any political candidate had lasted so long.
And then it was time to to saddle up, and head west, to Dallas.