America - Ten reasons to forgive Texas

It's given us a chainsaw massacre and J R Ewing, and has launched the careers of two George Bushes. It boasts the highest obesity rates in the world and its biggest city has 253 branches of McDonald's. For many, the case for a pre-emptive strike on Texas will already have been made. But there is another side. Although the Lone Star State's overall contribution to the happiness of the planet has plummeted since the election of George Bush II (a former governor) in 2000, plenty of Texans, down the years, have left their mark in a more beneficial way. So before you sign that "let's bomb Texas" petition, here's the case for the defence.

Scott Joplin: brilliant pianist and composer of ragtime, the first internationally popular genre in world music.

Janis Joplin: the greatest white blues singer of all time, killed by an overdose of heroin at the age of 27.

Katherine Anne Porter: Pulitzer prizewinner and author of the sublime, allegorical novel Ship of Fools, published in 1962 and made into an equally sublime film three years later starring Vivien Leigh and Simone Signoret.

Cyd Charisse: possessor of the finest pair of legs ever captured on celluloid. If you don't believe me, watch Singin' in the Rain.

George Foreman: former world heavyweight champion boxer, whose "rumble in the jungle" with Muhammad Ali in 1974 is regarded as one of the finest fights of all time. Twenty years later, at 45, Foreman regained his title, making him the oldest man ever to wear the heavyweight crown.

Buddy Holly: rock'n'roll pioneer, inspiration for the Beatles and a host of other musicians. Holly had a string of classic hits to his name when he died in a plane crash at the age of 22.

Dwight D Eisenhower: the 34th president of the United States may have been a Republican who liked shooting cats in his spare time but, as supreme allied commander, he helped save the world from Nazi tyranny. Later he was the first major figure to warn of the "unwarranted influence" of the "military-industrial complex" in US politics.

Lance Armstrong: to win the Tour de France six times in a row is an achievement in itself. To do so after a battle with cancer is truly Herculean. One of the great sportsmen not only of this, but of any other age.

Red Adair: the legendary firefighter, without whom those oil rigs would still be ablazing . . .

Bebe Daniels: star of the silent screen who, after marrying her fellow actor Ben Lyon, came to tour Britain and stayed for the rest of her life. The couple's series Hi Gang! ran on BBC radio for ten years and on television for four. Bebe is included not only for her glittering career, but also for the unrequited kindness of buying my father, then an evacuee of 13, a bag of sweets at Bristol station in 1939.

Neil Clark is not a Texan

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