Bullock career is now a biography
He died June 18, 1999, less than five months after his final term ended as the Senate's powerful presiding officer. But Bullock stories are still told by the thousands of people who worked for and around him as state comptroller and lieutenant governor.
Bullock legacies - besides the museum in Austin, dedicated in 2001 -- include the refurbished Texas State Cemetery on East 7th Street, and the Bullock Collection at Baylor University in Waco.
What many consider one of his biggest legacies is President George W. Bush, the Republican who Democrat Bullock endorsed not just for re-election as governor in 1998, but also for president.
Bullock didn't make Bush president. But he could have made Bush's gubernatorial record, which was a cornerstone of Bush's initial run for the presidency, a shambles had he chosen.
Instead, Bullock became Bush's bipartisan talisman, which Bush used to show he had reached across party lines in Austin, and would in Washington.
After Bullock's widow Jan introduced Bush at the Republican National Convention in 2000, and praised Bush's bipartisanship, Jim Henderson and I decided to write a book about Bullock. "Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas" was published by the University of Texas Press in February.
It's the unlikely tale of the once hide-bound partisan Democrat becoming one of the biggest advocates of a Republican for president.
It's also about how he got in a position to be a Bush enabler: making it to the state's secondhighest office, after 16 years as Texas tax collector and overseer of whether the Legislature's budget could be met, despite a reputation for boozing, womanizing, being investigated by state and federal officials, and delivering to just about anybody tongue-lashings so blunt, blistering and raw that he could make grown men cry. Literally.
He and the late former Gov. Ann Richards were political allies and drinking buddies. Her drinking stopped in 1980, after she went to what Bullock called "drunk school." He followed suit a year later.
Bullock was elected lieutenant governor in 1990. In the same election, Richards won the governorship - a a job he'd said several times he wanted, to the point of announcing for it in the early 1980s. Inside a year, he was treating her with disdain.
In fact, his treatment of her was often so brutal that she refused to be interviewed for our book -- probably because it was a no-win situation, even after his death.
If she told the truth, it would look like sour grapes. If she gilded things, few who knew them both would believe the sanitized version.
Bullock demanded information from Richards and her staff as though they worked for him, not her. His harsh demands were nasty enough that they refused to honor them.
By contrast, Bush fed Bullock's hunger for information, including gossip. The two quickly became friends, which met a mutual need.
Bush knew that with Bullock and Democratic House Speaker Pete Laney overseeing Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, to get any of his modest programs passed would require their help.
At the same time, with the Senate steadily trending Republican, Bullock knew it didn't hurt to have the arm of the state's number one Republican around his shoulder.
Yet it was a genuine friendship, and Bullock made no secret of his belief that Bush could do as much for Texas as Lyndon Johnson had.
We've tried to do justice to the biography of the most controversial and earthy Texas politician since Bullock's role model, LBJ. We hope you like it.
Books are available at bookstores, by calling UT Press at (800) 252-3206, or online at http://www. utexas.edu/utpress/books/mcnbob.html.
Dave McNeely has covered Texas politics for Texas newspapers for four decades, including 26 years with the Austin American-Statesman. He still writes a weekly column for two dozen Texas papers.
Jim Henderson worked for decades for the Dallas Times Herald, the Houston Chronicle, the Tulsa World, and has published several books.
Henderson and McNeely met in 1975 when both were Nieman Journalism Fellows at Harvard University.
Contact McNeely at (512) 458-2963, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Henderson at (214) 343-1791, or email@example.com.