A cartoon depicting Texas Gov. Rick Perry touting his state's economy whilst a fertilizer plant besides him explodes has unsurprisingly stirred up controversy.
The cartoon by Jack Ohman, which appeared in The Sacramento Bee on Thursday, added fuel to the already fierce rivalry between California and Texas. Supporters of the cartoon described it as gutsy and poignant, while detractors considered it tasteless and disrespectful. Perry, his Lt. Gov David Dewhurst, and a legion on angry Internet commenters were in the latter camp.
"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 Friday in a letter to the newspaper. "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. The Bee owes the community of West, Texas an immediate apology for your detestable attempt at satire."
Dewhurst has called for Ohman to be fired, saying his cartoon mocked the victims of the West fertilizer plant explosion.
But the California newspaper appears to have no plans to apologize or fire their cartoonist.
Stuart Leavenworth, the editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee, said the cartoon illustrated Perry's "disregard for worker safety, and his attempts to market Texas as a place where industries can thrive with few regulations."
Earlier this year, California Gov. Jerry Brown chided Texas for having a high percentage of workers earning minimum wage. Perry responded about a month later by running radio ads in California that encouraged business owners to move to his state. Perry claimed building a business in California was "next to impossible" because of regulations and taxes -- regulations and taxes that his state lacked.
"I'm defending this one because 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," Ohman explained Thursday.