But it was the convention speech by Hightower that I especially remember. He was the Texas agriculture commissioner in those days -- an important job in the Lone Star State -- and described Bush as a "toothache of a man," a cruel but remarkable metaphor. And he said that Bush behaved like someone who was "born on third base and thought he hit a triple... He is threatening to lead this country from tweedle-dum to tweedle-dumber."
Maybe Hightower didn't originate those lines (as Milton Berle used to say, "When you steal from me, you steal twice"), but he delivered them with a gusto akin to genuine authorship and over the years has come up with enough original material of his own to absolve him -- mostly -- from the sin of occasional joke-filching.
Now others steal from him. It was Jim, I believe, who came up with the notion that all elected officials be required to wear brightly colored, NASCAR-like jumpsuits with the corporate logos of their biggest campaign contributors, an idea I've heard appropriated by several others without proper attribution.
And I think it was Jim who first said of George W. Bush, "If ignorance ever reaches $40 a barrel, I want the drilling rights to his head" (On hearing that another politician was learning Spanish, Hightower is supposed to have remarked, "Oh good. Now he'll be bi-ignorant.").
"What created democracy was Thomas Paine and Shays Rebellion, the suffragists and the abolitionists and on down through the populists and the labor movement, including the Wobblies. Tough, in your face people... Mother Jones, Woody Guthrie... Martin Luther King and Caesar Chavez. And now it's down to us.
"... These are agitators. They extended democracy decade after decade. You know, sometimes we get in the midst of these fights. We think we're making no progress. But... you look back, we've made a lot of progress... The agitator after all is the center post in the washing machine that gets the dirt out. So, we need a lot more agitation...