HOUSTON — In the wild, wild west of Texas politics, Republicans have set a new standard since the November election.

In a bizarre twist following Tom DeLay’s reign of terror, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs won a special election on the same day as the general election, Nov. 7. The special election was called by Bush crony Gov. Rick Perry to replace DeLay. She replaces DeLay for the few weeks between the election and the next congressional session, which will begin in January. Bush campaigned in person for Sekula-Gibbs.

However, Sekula-Gibbs lost the Nov. 7 general election. In January, Nick Lampson, the labor-backed Democratic candidate and winner of the general election, will occupy DeLay’s seat until 2008.

Sekula-Gibbs, aka Sekula-Rodriguez, is a dermatologist from the Clear Lake (i.e. NASA) area of Houston. She had been a seat on the Houston City Council in 2001 as Sekula-Rodriguez. She had been married to popular local newscaster Sylvan Rodriguez who died in 2000 from pancreatic cancer. In 2002 she married Robert W. Gibbs Jr., director of corporate community relations at Reliant Energy, and was re-elected under her present name. (Houston-based Reliant has been under investigation over the 2000-2001 California electricity ripoff. It is suspected of gaming the market by decreasing energy production, causing electricity prices to surge.)

Since her swearing-in in Washington, Sekula-Gibbs has been a spectacle Texas has never seen the likes of. Apparently she mistook herself for DeLay and decided to hammer through legislation on immigration and taxes. However, she didn’t bother to read the papers, or she would have noticed that the right wing suffered a major defeat on Nov. 7.

In her grandiose efforts to make a name for herself in the few weeks she is in office, she has succeeded only in alienating Tom DeLay’s staff, who deleted their computer files and resigned en masse in disgust with her management style. She retaliated by calling for an investigation of her own staff.

Sekula-Gibbs held a reception after her confirmation, and it was rumored that she was miffed that Bush and Cheney did not bother to attend. Most people agree that she has fouled any possibility of seeking office in the future.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 15, the state’s all-Republican Court of Criminal Appeals slapped President Bush’s hand after he engaged in a rare act that might be deemed presidential. He intervened on behalf of 46 condemned Mexican inmates, asking state courts to give them new hearings.

Bush acted after the International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations, decided that the arrests of the Mexican citizens had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and called for new hearings. But Judge Michael Keasler wrote for the Texas court, “We hold that the president has exceeded his constitutional authority by intruding into the independent powers of the judiciary.”

One of the defendants’ attorneys, Sandra Babcock, replied, “By denying [my client] even that opportunity, the Texas court has undermined the security of Americans abroad who depend on the Vienna Convention for protection.”

Maria Eugenia Campos Galvan, a deputy to Mexico’s Parliament from the border state of Chihuahua, noted, “It is a violation of human rights, and I strongly reject this decision.”

Republicans can claim one victory, however. Ted Jackson, who founded a company in Louisville, Ky., that has produced campaign materials for the GOP since 1984, was accused of stealing the design for the “W” bumper stickers from a Wichita Falls man, Jerry Gossett.

An Associated Press picture of Gossett holding his bumper sticker reveals the similarity with the stickers widely seen throughout the country.

A federal jury in Texarkana, Texas, decided in favor of the GOP that the bumper sticker was not plagiarized. Jurors said they didn’t have enough evidence to convict.

When you’re down and out, it is good to know that at least you can hold onto your bumper stickers.

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