Cruzing. I had to change planes in Houston over the weekend and picked up the Houston Chronicle, which ran a front page story on Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and President Barack Obama. Among the most interesting tidbits in the story: Ted Cruz has a 70 percent approval rating among Republicans in Texas, but only 40 percent overall. He’s also being mentioned more often as a candidate for president in 2016. A University of Texas poll found Cruz “leading the pack with the support of 25 percent of survey respondents in Texas—12 percentage points ahead of Sen. Rand Paul.” Such reactions, though, are no surprise to those who know Texas politics. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who lost to Cruz in the primary because he was too liberal, says he wants to impeach President Obama. Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, one of the most powerful men in the state because he oversees the oil and gas industry, said Texas is prepared to be a “stand-alone entity” if “the rest of the country falls apart.” Bottom line: Don’t mess with Texas.
Drive-ins. This year marks the 80th birthday of an American institution: the drive-in theatre. In 1933, Richard Hollingshead placed a Kodak projector on the hood of his car and projected the comedy Wives Beware onto a screen nailed between two trees. A primitive radio transmitter provided sound. From those beginnings, the industry grew. In the 1950s, America had more than 4,000 drive-ins. Today, that number is less than 350.
Weekend box office. Gravity continued its pull at the box office this weekend, raking in $31 million to retain the top spot. Captain Phillips also remained strong, pulling in $17 million. The big surprise of the weekend was the dismal showing of The Fifth Estate, the movie about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It took in just $1.7 million in wide release for Disney. It was the biggest flop of the year for a film in wide release. A minor surprise is the staying power of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, which pulled in more than $10-million in its fourth week of release.
Twinkies. I can’t resist revisiting a story that we first noted last year. The company that makes Twinkies was forced into bankruptcy by high costs that were mostly the result of a back-breaking union contract. When Twinkies ceased production, the mainstream media told a story of big, bad capitalists crushing the unions. However, there’s more to the story. Some of those big, bad capitalists, Apollo Global Management, bought Twinkies out of bankruptcy for more than $400 million. They made further investments, gave many of the workers their jobs back, and re-introduced Twinkies in July. Today, Twinkies are in tens of thousands of stores again. This story is a great example of how the economy “cleanses” itself, and why failure is a part of entrepreneurship and the business cycle. But if all you read are mainstream media accounts, you might not know that.