The hillbillies on the House Agriculture Committee were itching to vote down Rep. Janis Sontany's legislation to make it a felony to sadistically starve or otherwise torture a horse. They settled for singing hosannas to the bill's main foe--the powerful Farm Bureau--before reluctantly agreeing today to put off killing it for a week.
Sontany asked for the delay out of desperation. But the death of her bill is inevitable. The Farm Bureau won't budge. It says it's protecting farmers from crazy animal lovers.
"The Farm Bureau is the 800-pound gorilla that walks around down here," Sontany complained as the committee collectively yawned. "They've got the clout, not me as one legislator. I'd welcome their help. But all I get is no, they're not going to negotiate in any way."
That set off Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Pleistocene Epoch, who went on a bizarre tirade against Willie Nelson. That's right, it's all the fault of the red-headed stranger. If it weren't for Willie and his PETA buddies, we'd slaughter more horses. Therefore, these horses wouldn't be starving. Because they would be dead. Also, Niceley argued, we ought to eat these horses or at least sell them to China or Mexico to be eaten. Here's only a small part of his diatribe:
"When they shut down the horse processing plants in America, they thought they were doing a great job. They thought that was a humane thing to do. Willie Nelson thought that was the humane thing to do, and they were going to save all those horses and they were going to get them adopted. Well, guess what? It's the most inhumane thing that has ever happened to the horse world. I've never seen as many horses starving as there are now because there's no where to go with them. ... A horse can live to be 40 years old, occasionally 50. I've heard of them 60 years old. All over the world, people want to buy these horses. It's a cultural thing. China eats a tremendous amount. Mexico is No. 2. ... When these good-intentioned people push to stop the processing of horses in America, they did the horses in this country a great disjustice."
When Niceley finished, more lawmakers started popping off about PETA and various other villains who are tormenting the good farmers of our state.
Rep. Willie "Butch" Borchert worried about clogging up the jails with all the animal abusers who would run afoul of Sontany's bill. "How many people are going to be willing to vote for taxes to keep building new jails?" he asked. "That's one of the problems I've got with this bill."
Rep. Eddie Bass was just about to launch into his speech when an exasperated Sontany interrupted.
"I should have just run over you in the garage this morning," she told Bass.
"That's a misdemeanor," Bass joked.
"With you, it should be, sir."