In February 1989, Ben L. Jones, a scruffy, newly elected U.S. representative from Georgia, took to the floor of Congress and introduced himself to his fellow lawmakers in a rather unusual and atypically honest fashion.
"There was a time in my life when I spent 90 percent of my money on booze and broads, and the rest of it I just wasted," Jones began, matter-of-factly enumerating all of his faults and political vulnerabilities.
"When I awoke naked in a tattoo parlor in Talladega, Alabama, I knew it was time to change my lifestyle," Jones said. "So I went into politics."
If that insane and well-documented little anecdote isn't enough to make you want to shake the man's hand when he comes to Davis-Kidd to sign copies of his autobiography Redneck Boy in the Promised Land, consider this: Jones is also the actor who played Cooter, the grease-spattered, sleeveless-shirt-wearing mechanic on The Dukes of Hazzard TV show. Cooter, for non-Duke-o-philes, was the man who took a beat-up 1960s Dodge Charger and turned it into the iconic General Lee, installed its famous "Dixie"-playing horn, and fixed just about anything from a blown tire to a blown engine for just under $35.
Sadly, for those who appreciate honesty and openness in government, Jones' time in Congress was short. He only served two terms. Today he's the proprietor of cootersplace.com and the founder of Dukesfest, an annual event for people who love to see those Duke boys make a fool of Boss Hogg.
Ben L. Jones signs "Redneck Boy in the Promised Land" on Thursday, June 12th, at 6 p.m., at Davis-Kidd Booksellers (683-9801).