Leadbelly and George Bush, Jr.
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sat, 28 Mar 98 04:03:09 -0800
Subject: Leadbelly and George Bush, Jr.
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The internet reports rumor and fact with SUCH SWIFTNESS that we get April
Fools jokes on March 25th!
Here's the story from the Houston Chronicle:
7:16 PM 3/25/1998
Some see pardon parody as real thing
By MICHAEL HOLMES
AUSTIN -- A tongue-in-cheek "report" that Gov. George W. Bush is revoking
the pardon of famed musician Leadbelly, who died in 1949, had his office
singing the blues Wednesday.
Leadbelly, whose real name was Huddie Ledbetter, was a blues-folk singer
renowned for his skill with a 12-string guitar and composing such songs as
Rock Island Line, The Midnight Special, and Goodnight Irene.
But in his early life, Leadbelly also was a tough customer. He was convicted
on murder charges in 1918 and sentenced to 30 years in the Texas
In the pen, he penned a song -- "If I had you, Gov. Neff, like you got me
... I'd wake up in the mornin' and I'd set you free." It helped persuade
then-Gov. Pat Neff to pardon him.
The latest issue of The Texas Observer magazine, which not coincidentally
coincides with April Fool's Day, includes a news report parody in which the
current governor announces he's taking back Leadbelly's pardon.
"It sent the wrong message to criminals in Texas," the parody quotes Bush
as telling a news conference. "We want all Texans to know that if you do
the crime, you will do the time -- in this life or the hereafter."
The pardon parody also quotes Bush's press secretary, Karen Hughes, as
saying, "The governor believes Neff's pardon of such a hardened criminal
set a bad example."
Not everyone, it seems, understands the report is pure fiction.
"I don't know whether to laugh or be concerned," the authentic Hughes said
after Bush's office began hearing from concerned citizens. "We're getting
calls from people asking, `Why did you say this?' "
Well, they didn't.
And Observer editor Michael King is the first to say so.
"I just got off the phone with somebody who assumed it was absolutely
straight," King said. "I said, `Wait a minute. You understand this really
didn't happen?' "
© 1998 Peter Langston