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Is there something in the Austin water that is causing hallucinations?

The governor thinks he’s King Charles II, the last king of England to dissolve Parliament.

The lieutenant governor thinks that the need to “save girls’ sports” in Texas is an emergency despite the fact that he hasn’t been able to cite an actual instance of the problem.

But the attorney general takes the cake. In an interview Friday, he took credit for saving Donald Trump’s Texas victory last November by winning 12 lawsuits here in the state. “If we had lost just one of them,” he boasted, “… Donald Trump would have lost the election.”

Gov. Greg Abbott knows he can’t dissolve the Legislature, but he’s pledged to do the next best thing: defund it by using his line-item veto. The reason: The Democrats filibustered with their feet. They walked out just before the vote on Senate Bill 7, which they believe is designed to suppress urban votes, especially those of minority voters. 

It’s likely to be a short-lived victory for the Democrats. Abbott has already said he will put the item on the agenda of a special session before the end of this fiscal year this fall, when his veto of the Legislature’s funding would take effect.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick easily got the Senate to pass a bill requiring that students compete in athletics according to their sex at birth. But the bill died in the House, much to the relief of San Antonio’s limping hospitality industry. The NCAA has threatened to boycott states that pass such anti-transgender legislation. Houston could lose the lucrative men’s Final Four in 2023, San Antonio the 2025 men’s Final Four, and Dallas the 2023 women’s Final Four.

As far as I can tell, the only time the transgender issue has come up in Texas sports was with Mack Beggs, a wrestler from the Fort Worth suburb of Euless. He was born a girl but transitioned as a high school freshman. He competed as a boy in regular season tournaments but was, against his wishes, required by the body that governs state interscholastic sports to wrestle as a girl in the state championship. He won in the 110-pound weight class in 2017 and 2018.

Nevertheless, Patrick is demanding that Abbott put the issue on a special session agenda so he can “save girls’ sports” by creating, if rarely, more Mack Beggs situations.

But if Patrick is delusional enough to consider himself the savior of girls’ sports, consider the megalomaniacal delusion of Paxton. In an episode of Steve Bannon’s “War Room: Pandemic” podcast Friday, Paxton said that if his office had not won a lawsuit against Harris County, “Donald Trump would have lost the election.” 

Paxton continued: “We had 12 lawsuits that we had to win. And if we had lost one of them …” but then switched to focus on Houston and Harris County.

The county clerk there had announced he would send applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters. Paxton’s office sued to stop him. The AG’s office lost at the district court, but won at the state Supreme Court.

Noting that Trump carried Texas by 620,000 votes, Paxton told Bannon, “Harris County mail-in ballots that they wanted to send out were 2.5 million. Those were all illegal and we were able to stop every one of them,” he explained.

The victory, Paxton concluded, was crucial. “I was watching on election night and I knew, when I saw what was happening in these other states, that that would have been Texas. We would’ve been in the same boat. We would’ve been one of those battleground states that they were counting votes in Harris County for three days and Donald Trump would’ve lost the election.”

This was pure heroic fantasy. First, the county clerk was not intending, as Paxton alleged, to send out mail-in ballots to all citizens. He was planning to send out applications for mail-in ballots. There is, as we shall see, a big difference.

Second, 2.5 million is the wrong number. Actually, Harris County had 2,431,456 registered voters, but that’s a quibble. The real number at issue is 774,771 – the relatively small number of registered voters who were not among the record 68% of citizens who turned out to vote, including 177,043 who voted by mail. 

For Paxton’s theory that he saved Texas for Trump by winning the Harris County lawsuit to be real he would have to assume that a huge percentage of the people who didn’t vote – whether it was because they were too lazy, too uninterested, too offended by their choices, or because they lacked proper identification – would take the trouble to fill out a mail-in vote application, put a stamp on it, mail it in by the deadline, and then fill out the extensive ballot when it arrived, put it in, and sign the special envelope that would be included, put that in another envelope, put a stamp or two on it, and mail it back in by Election Day. 

Right. And let’s say that every one of those nonvoters who didn’t vote during Harris County’s massive pandemic-induced effort to make voting easy – who somehow avoided the longest early voting period ever, the drive-thru polls the county provided, and the eight polling locations that were kept open for a 24-hour period and served more than 10,000 voters – mailed in their applications and then successfully submitted their mail-in votes. 

If they all did that, Biden would have had to win 81 percent of those votes in order to top Trump statewide, a margin more than a third higher than the 56 percent by which Biden carried Harris County. 

Bannon, Trump’s former top strategist, sounded impressed by Paxton’s claims. But Bannon likes fabulists. His podcast was banned from YouTube earlier this year after he gave Rudy Giuliani a platform to announce that the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol was staged by Democrats. 

Bannon’s podcast account also was barred from Twitter late last year after he suggested that the heads of FBI Director Christopher Wray and Dr. Anthony Fauci should be placed on pikes outside the White House. 

Maybe he thinks he’s King Henry VIII.

Rick Casey

Rick Casey's career spans four decades of award-winning reporting on San Antonio. He previously worked as a metro columnist for the former San Antonio Light and, later, the San Antonio Express-News.