Los Angeles (CNSNews.com) - "For the good of the other 49 states, we'll gladly take George W. Bush for another two years" (as governor), said a member of the small but feisty Texas delegation to the Democratic National Convention.
Unlike the GOP convention in Philadelphia, where the Texas delegation sat front and center and hosted the must-attend parties of the week, the Texas Democrats are "a small but merry band," according to Bob Slagle, former state party chair and member of the Democratic National Committee.
They'll tell you up front that Al Gore doesn't have a prayer in Texas this year - "a snowball's chance in San Antonio," said Louis Boulet, a delegate from Port Naches - but they think they play a special role at this year's Democratic gathering: debunkers of the legend of George W. Bush.
"We're kind of envious that he's promising all these things for the country that he never brought to Texas," said Slagle.
It's an article of faith among Texas Democrats that the reforms in education, the environment and the tax code for which Bush takes credit either never occurred or began under Ann Richards, the Democrat Bush defeated in 1994.
And to Texas Democrats, Bush's tales of bipartisan cooperation are tallest of Texas tall tales.
"Bush had to be dragged kicking and screaming into passing a patient's bill of rights, had to be dragged along by the Democrats in the Texas House to raise teacher pay," said U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, a member of the Democratic leadership. "Without us, he wouldn't have been nearly as successful as he says he was."
These delegates are happy to blast George W. Bush, of course, but they remain a little uncomfortable with Al Gore's attacks on conditions in Texas. "I'll use the figures [on pollution in Texas], but it's not Texas-bashing when I do," said Joe Gunn, president of the Texas chapter of the AFL-CIO. "I love Texas, but we have to tell the truth about his record."
To tell their version of the Bush years in Texas, Democrats from Harris County have formed the "Texas Truth Rangers," a group of Gore enthusiasts who distribute fact sheets on Bush's administration, claiming - among other things - that Texas academic test scores "are inflated by excessive test drills and exemptions for disadvantaged students," and "Texas led the country in air pollution since 1995."
But despite their bravado, and their glee at taking on George W. Bush, these delegates know they're the "ugly girls at the dance," as W. Preston Haggerty, a delegates from Jefferson, described their situation - the lonely dissenters in a state that is expected to back its governor by close to 2 to 1.
As Dora Morena of El Paso put it, "Hey, we're the few, the proud, the Texas Democrats."