Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said something he wasn't supposed to earlier this week. Commenting on the uproar over the potential release of sensitive intelligence information in a memo drafted by Republican U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, Miller compared the situation to slavery.
While this isn't the first time, or the 10th, that Miller has embarrassed himself or the state of Texas with his public comments, Republican primary voters, as they are so good at doing, need to ignore their leader's misstep. Having Miller in a job as far down the pecking order as ag commissioner provides a much-needed distraction in this, the most wearying of political eras.
Since being elected in Texas' 2014 GOP landslide, Miller has carefully cultivated a love affair with fans of the absurd. In one of his first official acts as commissioner, Miller pardoned cupcakes at a press conference, in defiance of new federal guidelines for school lunches.
"I also pardoned pies, cookies and brownies," he explained on his official state podcast, Shoot the Bull.
The same month, February 2015, Miller got a shout-out from the Observer's Eric Nicholson for his thoughtful treatment of junk food. The commissioner also used money from Texas taxpayers for a trip to Oklahoma, saying that he intended to meet with Oklahoma state officials and take a tour of the Oklahoma City stockyards. Miller never went to the meetings or went on a tour. Instead, he later admitted, he'd headed to the Sooner State for a dose of the so-called Jesus Shot, a steroid- and vitamin-laced snake-oil concoction its creator claims soothes all pains in the body. Miller later repaid the state for the trip and avoided official punishment despite an investigation by the Texas Rangers.
Miller continued his run throughout 2015 and 2016, suggesting, via Facebook, that the U.S. drop nuclear weapons on portions of — or at least a couple of cities in — the Middle East, reposting a story alleging that there was an Islamic terrorist training camp outside of Houston and claiming that Hillary Clinton had been endorsed by the Communist Party.
“I’m not a news organization,” Miller told Nathan Bernier, a reporter for Austin-based radio station KUT when asked about the fake stories that continue to bubble up on his social media pages. “Y’all are holding me to the same standards as you are a news organization, and it’s just Facebook.”
As the election approached in fall 2016, Miller stepped in national hot water for the first time when the person operating his Twitter account — Miller blamed it on a staffer — tweeted out a poll that showed Donald Trump receiving 44 percent of the expected vote and "cunt" with 43 percent of the vote.
"The campaign was retweeting information on Twitter today and inadvertently retweeted a tweet that we were not aware contained a derogatory term. The tweet was taken down as soon as possible," Miller's office said in a statement after initially tweeting that he'd been hacked. "Commissioner Miller finds the term vulgar and offensive and apologized to anyone who may have seen it."
Miller is always good for a story and a laugh. That has value, more value than his primary challenger, Trey Blocker, a former lobbyist from Austin, promises to bring to the table.
“Texans cannot trust Sid Miller,” Blocker said in January while touting his first radio ad against Miller. “I am running to return the Texas Department of Agriculture to its core mission of preserving, promoting and protecting agriculture.”
"Return the Texas Department of Agriculture to its core mission"? Sounds pretty boring. Thanks goodness Miller is doing everything he can to keep Texas politics in the nothing-matters, nihilist netherworld.
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"What in the world is a Nutella banana crepe?" Miller asked on Facebook, mocking one of the specials on a menu board behind Blocker in a photo of his challenger meeting voters at a diner in December. "More importantly, where in the heck did my opponent go to stage this photo op? Probably some Yuppie Austin Coffee Bar. Man of the people? I'll stick to biscuits and gravy!"
Ah, the good stuff. Vote for Miller if you want to keep it coming.