Roger L. Simon

Shootin' with the Governor (Perry)

The last time I fired a gun I almost killed somebody. Well, not really. But it sure generated a lot of guffaws from my hosts, a group of Russian filmmakers. I was up in Siberia, of all places, about seven years ago, as a juror at a film festival and was taken rifle shooting on a frozen biathlon course. I missed the target by about twenty yards, knocking several branches off a nearby tree.

So naturally I had a moment’s trepidation when invited to go shooting with Governor Rick Perry of Texas as part of an event he was staging for bloggers in his home territory of Austin. On the other hand I had never been to the Texas capital and the charismatic governor interested me. So I accepted his invitation with pleasure. But just to be careful – I figured Perry had to be a good shot and didn’t want to embarrass myself – I went over to the LAX Los Angeles Firing Range to take a half hour lesson with a retired Marine.

As it happened – you’re probably not going to believe this (I almost don’t myself) – I turned out to be a crack shot or sort of. To the shock of the ex-Marine, I hit a number of near bull’s eyes with a 9mm Smith & Wesson semi-automatic.

I assumed it was beginner’s luck and was still a bit nervous when I lined up with several bloggers yesterday at the firing line of Red’s Indoor Range South in Austin, but I was almost as good with the Glock they gave me there. This time I even have video to prove it, which will appear on PJTV in a few days replete with a shot of the Governor praising my shooting. (Yes, I asked him to do it.) Of course, I was nowhere near as good as Perry who, as expected, was about as schooled a governor with firearms as we have. He was also an extremely gracious host, showing several of us how to operate laser guided pistols and so forth.

Later, a smaller group of us had dinner with the Governor at a place called the Moonshine Grill. There I got a chance to talk with him at length and I have to say, of all the politicians I have spoken with since the beginning of PJM, of whom there have been at this point more than a few, he seems to be the most genuinely interested in new media. He believes in it – in an odd way – perhaps even more than I do. As evidence, while we were at the dinner table, he pulled out his MacBook Pro and went online. Not even Andrew Breitbart, seated next to me, was so wired.

I have to say we were impressed. He is also a very affable, down-to-earth person who is no doubt well-positioned for the new Tea Party era. Indeed, recent polls have shown a tremendous swing in his favor in his race for the Republican nomination against Kay Bailey Hutchison for the position he already holds. Hutchison is supported, titularly at least, by the old guard – Rove, Bush 41, etc. But in these Scott Brown days, it’s not particularly good to be an old guard – or associated with one.

I did make one blunder, however. I started to eat before the Governor said Grace. Of course, that’s not surprising, since I am the last of the village atheists (or close). I have to admit I expected to be put off a bit by Perry’s religiosity, but I wasn’t at all. Perhaps that has more to do with me than with him. Although I am agnostic (not an atheist – who could really be one?), I have a growing respect, maybe even an envy, for religious people. And it’s not just because they seem to have better values than most people and often actually seem to behave better. It’s self-interest. The older I get, the more I want to believe in an after-life. (So far no luck.)

Now I’m off to appear on a panel – payment, I suppose, for the shooting instruction and the free meal.