Texas progressives mourn the death of columnist and author Molly Ivins, who succumbed to cancer on January 31. Even the people she antagonized most – corporate bigwigs and greedy politicians – are making public lamentations about the loss of our true Texas satirist. Governor Rick Perry, who will be always remembered by Ivins’ own name for him, “Governor Good Hair,” made a statement. “Shrub,” the offspring of former President George Bush The First, did too.

Ivins’ memory will forever remain in the warm spot she created in the hearts of the state’s progressives in the 1970s, when forward-thinking political figures weren’t even numerous enough to be called a minority in the Democratic Party. The tiny Austin weekly, Texas Observer, hired her during the time when there were only 30 state legislators who would take a stand for minorities and the state’s poor. They were called, of course, the “Dirty Thirty.” It was a time when so many bad things happened in the Texas Legislature that laughing was the only possible relief, and Ivins led that laughter.

Mercilessly, she pointed out the large and small peccadilloes of state government. “The only legislature we have,” as Molly Ivins called it, ordinarily meets for only a few months every two years. For concerned Texans, those months belonged to Molly Ivins and the Texas Observer. She would sound the alarm when they were preparing to meet, and she would announce the “all clear” when they finally adjourned.

Ivins’ talent made her one of America’s most read syndicated columnists and the author of a number of hilarious books.

Even though Texas Democrats do not control a single state office nor either house of the “Lege” today, Molly Ivins lived to see the Democratic Party’s more liberal wing take control, as more and more Black and Latino candidates took office and the racist Dixiecrats died off or switched parties.

Fittingly, Molly Ivins’ last published column was a rant against the war in the Mideast and “Shrub’s” demands for escalation. She wrote, “Every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous.”

Unbelievably crazy things continue to happen in Texas. Senator Cornyn voted to abolish the minimum wage, then proposed that wealthy people should be able to deduct the cost of their health spas. Eccentric millionaire James Leininger of San Antonio announced a new publicity campaign to undermine the public schools. Progressive Democrats have infuriated the powers-that-be in the Lege by voting to uphold the constitution. TXU, the giant utility, says that Texans should believe them, just one more time, when they say their 11 new coal-fired plants won’t increase pollution. Some of the Methodists are calling the other Methodists names because they don’t want Shrub’s presidential library (and reactionary think tank) ensconced on the campus at Southern Methodist University. The Baptists fired their Hebrew teacher because they found an obscure biblical warning against having women teach men. Hungry Texans are terrified that the Baptists will also find the injunction (Leviticus 11:10) against eating catfish.

How will we bear the news in Texas without Molly Ivins?