Rick Perry demands apology over cartoon 'mocking' Texas plant explosion


Texas Gov. Rick Perry watches a college football game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Ford Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.


Ronald Martinez

Texas Governor Rick Perry is furious over a newspaper cartoon that he says 'mocks' a fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people last week.

California's Sacramento Bee newspaper ran the cartoon which depicts Perry boasting about business booming in Texas in front of a banner reading "Low Tax!" and "`Low Regs!"

The next panel shows an explosion engulfing the area with thick black smoke and "Boom!" written in red.

The cartoon is a play on Perry's oft-repeated mantra that low regulations and low taxes is the source of Texas' business success.

The West, Texas plant, outside of Waco, reportedly had not been inspected since 2006. Ten of the victims killed were first responders

In a letter to the Bee's editor, Perry said it "was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon."

"While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won't stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans," Perry wrote. "Additionally, publishing this on the very day our state and nation paused to honor and mourn those who died only compounds the pain and suffering of the many Texans who lost family and friends in this disaster."

Cartoonist Jack Ohman defended his work, saying "I think that when you have a politician traveling across the country selling a state with low regulatory capacity, that politician also has to be accountable for what happens when that lack of regulation proves to be fatal.

"That's exponentially more offensive to me."

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called for Ohman to be fired.

"I think it's reprehensible for a member of the media to sit in safety and mock such a profound tragedy regardless of any 'point' he is trying to make," Dewhurst said.