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Rick Perry won his first attempt at statewide office in 1990, in part because Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower didn't answer commercials being run by the Republican upstart. 

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Shipwrecked

If you've been watching closely as the Legislature ran aground, you've been spun enough. We'll make our autopsy report brief. The highlights:

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Craddick Goes Statewide

House Speaker Tom Craddick is running radio ads in "selected markets across the state" — Houston, Dallas and San Antonio are on the list — defending the House's actions on school finance, attacking the Senate, and suggesting the Texas Supreme Court will have the final say on what lawmakers should do.  

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Wind Farm

The 1962 New York Mets ended their season —  their first — with 40 wins and 120 losses. They were at the bottom of the National League, 60.5 games out of first place. They were historically inept, inspiring Jimmy Breslin to write a book titled with a quote from the manager, Casey Stengel: "Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?" 

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Is There a Closer in the Bullpen?

Having a governor directly involved has made some difference in school finance, but the two halves of the Legislature are still locked up over some of the issues that doomed earlier compromises. They are closer than they were, particularly after the Senate fell on its sword on business taxes, but there's plenty left to fight over. 

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Just Enough

What do you call the student who finishes last in medical school? A doctor. And what do you call legislation that passes by just one vote? A law, or one step closer to it. 

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Refrigerate After Opening

A handy July 4 tip: You shouldn't leave chocolate cream pies or potato salad or tax bills sitting out. They have notoriously short shelf lives and what's good at first sours quickly in open air.

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Castaway

Skip the bit where your plane crashes into the ocean in the middle of a rainy night and strands you on the desert island. Ignore the time you're out there living on sushi and coconuts. Think, instead, about coming home.

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Brother Can You Spare A Dime? A Quarter?

Looking for a newspaper clip on the Internet the other day, we stumbled on what appeared to be the story we sought. It was about Gov. Rick Perry telling a Tyler audience about the prospects for a special session of the Legislature. But instead of what we expected — an account of Perry's efforts to negotiate a deal the House and Senate could swallow — it said Perry had given up trying to solve school finance until legislative leaders had a viable plan.

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The Bell Lap

The formula here is just as it was at the beginning of the session: Failure to get results on school finance and property cuts would be horrible news for Rick Perry, less troubling for David Dewhurst and Tom Craddick, and of very little political consequence to the average member of the Texas Legislature.

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Don't Say 'Boom'

Until this is over, it'll be impossible to say whether legislative leaders sent their tax and education bills to conference committees or to bomb squads.

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Convergence, or Something Like It

The Texas Senate dropped its state property tax, overhauled its overhaul of business taxes, and approved a school finance bill more in line with what the Texas House approved earlier this year. Big differences remain to be worked out in that package, and also in companion legislation that includes some school finance and some new education law. But the Legislature is closer to a deal on school finance now than it was a day, a week, or a year ago. Upgrade the condition of the patient from impossible to merely improbable. That's an improvement, and previous legislatures have overcome bigger differences.

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Who's For It?

Officeholders who weren't in the Pink Building in 1997 are finding out now what George W. Bush found out then: Even when everything appears to be lined up just right, it's almost impossible to pass a tax bill.

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Hoist By Their Own Petard*

Act surprised if you hear much more from the House this session about limiting corporate and union money in elections. An attempt to dynamite that legislation out of a hostile committee backfired badly enough that 50 of the bill's 93 sponsors ducked, either voting against the effort or absenting themselves from the House floor during the vote. On the strength of a 95-36 vote, it remains in committee.

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High Noon

The legislative session is reaching a point that's as reliable as the lunch horn in a factory: That moment when it appears that everything is definitely-for-sure-absolutely-certainly going to fall to pieces. Or not.

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Three Big Bills and a Bucket of Lint

You got your budget. You got your school finance/reform bill. You got your tax bill. And then you have everything else. If there's a notable feature to this legislative session, it's that those three pieces of legislation have sucked the oxygen out of the room. There are other bills of note — appraisal caps, workers compensation insurance, the water bill, some sunset bills, and so on — but the report card on this Legislature will focus on the three big deals.

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Blink

The House will vote on a statewide property tax proposal before the Senate gets to it, a vote likely to kill a key provision of the Senate's school finance package.

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Snake Eyes

Democratic leaders in the House say they're against gambling as a way to finance public education or to fill holes that might appear in the state budget. They said they'll oppose it during the current legislative session.

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