Truth to power: Ann Richards, 1933-2006

The former Texas governor warned that we won't have the "America that we want" until we elect leaders who "tell the truth."

Published September 14, 2006 12:37PM (EDT)

Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, whose keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention seems just as relevant today as it did then, died Wednesday after a fight with esophageal cancer. She was 73.

As the Associated Press reports, "The silver-haired, silver-tongued Richards said she entered politics to help others -- especially women and minorities who were often ignored by Texas' male-dominated establishment."

"I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house,'" Richards said shortly before George W. Bush replaced her as governor in 1995. "I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone.'"

We'll remember Richards for a brief interview we did with her a few years ago -- she grew bored of our questions, told us we'd gotten enough out of her and all but hung up on us -- but we'll remember her more for the speech she gave almost two decades ago in Atlanta. They'll be quoting the punch line a lot today, the one about George H.W. Bush having been born with a "silver foot in his mouth." We'll be thinking about what she said just before that: "We're not going to have the America that we want until we elect leaders who are gonna tell the truth."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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