Ted Poe feels pretty strongly about the Lone Ranger, and that's just the way it is.
The Texas Republican confirmed his fanboy status in a fervent op-ed published Monday in some Texas newspapers, noting the recent release of "The Lone Ranger" movie starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp and averring his love of the masked cowboy and telling the improbable story of how he came to serve as the judge in a case involving Clayton Moore, the actor who played the Lone Ranger in the famous black-and-white television series.
"He was my childhood hero," Poe said, revealing that he still has his tin Lone Ranger lunchbox. "It now sits in my office next to his autographed picture that says, 'I too believe in Law & Order.'"
In the "Poe note," an op-ed Poe himself writes and is published in certain Texas newspapers, Poe tells the story of how, after the show was canceled in 1957, Moore traveled the United States making appearances at benefits.
"He would dress up like the Lone Ranger wearing his hat, mask, and ivory handled pistols and he’d talk about America," Poe said.
During a 1988 visit to Houston to speak at a charity for disabled children, Moore became "the victim of a bold thief."
"A baggage handler at the Houston airport stole his luggage. In his luggage was not only his Lone Ranger outfit, but his two Ivory handled .45 Colt revolver pistols — worth several thousands of dollars," Poe's quirky note said, with a seeming misty-eyed belief that anything could be worth such a sum. "These weren’t fake pistols, they were the real things — might as well have been the Hope Diamond itself."
"The baggage handler thief was quick to take action. That same day, he made his way to a pawn shop, with his loot. He handed over the pistols to see how much he could get for them. But before he knew it, he was in handcuffs on his way to the jailhouse. Simply put, the pawn shop employees knew exactly what the crook was up to and who those guns belonged to. So the law was called and the thief was charged with theft of the Lone Ranger’s guns!"
Poe was a Harris County, Texas, felony court judge, and, "low and behold" [sic], the case ended up in his court.
During the trial, Moore was called as a witness, and instead of coming to court in more traditional courtroom-appropriate attire, the Lone Ranger came dressed as, well, the Lone Ranger. "Mask, hat, and all — concealing his true identity," Poe said.
The defense attorney objected and demanded that Moore take off his mask and change his clothes.
"I summarily overruled that objection and Clayton Moore wore his outfit. The reason: outlaws have been trying to find out the identity of the Lone Ranger for years and I wasn’t about to be the person to go down in the history books as the one who unmasked the Lone Ranger!"
The defendant was convicted of felony theft and the jury gave him 10 years probation.
"When it came to the terms of probation, one of the conditions that I imposed and thought appropriate was that the convicted offender — the one who stole the Lone Ranger’s guns — work 20 hours per month doing community service at the Houston Police Department Mounted Patrol Division stables — cleaning up after horses like Silver, Trigger (Roy Rogers) and Buttercup (Dale Evans)," Poe's note proudly proclaimed.
"Because as singer Jim Croce said, there are three things you don’t do: 'You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind and you don’t pull off the mask of that old Lone Ranger.'”