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Webb Report: Beto O’Rourke’s virality, now with skateboards and Ellen

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso, hasn’t had trouble going viral in his campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Earlier this month, O’Rourke’s skateboarding at a Whataburger parking lot did the trick.

“A Facebook Live video filmed by a campaign staffer on O’Rourke’s Facebook page opens on a Whataburger in Brownsville at night,” the American-Statesman’s Jake Harris wrote about the social media stunt. “O’Rourke then enters the frame on a skateboard, making his own ‘whoooosh’ noise as he skates by the camera. He does a few laps around the parking lot (his stance: goofy-footed) and then enters the restaurant to talk to Whataburger patrons.”

The politician also ordered a triple-meat Whataburger, in case you wondering, ostensibly a jab at Cruz calling O’Rourke a “triple-meat Whataburger liberal.” Politics are fun, aren’t they?

PolitiFact: Why Rafael Cruz goes by Ted and Robert O’Rourke by Beto

On Wednesday, O’Rourke caught famous eyes on the internet through something with a little more political meat.

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NowThis, a news outlet that often posts left-leaning social media videos, published a clip of O’Rourke addressing his stance on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice.

Of the protests, O’Rourke says in the video that “I can think of nothing more American.”

The clip took off: Singer John Legend shared it on Twitter, as did actor Russell Crowe. An Esquire article called it a “return to the politics of integrity,” and athletes including Kurt Warner and Abby Wambach signaled their support for O’Rourke’s message. As of Thursday morning, the original NowThis tweet had been retweeted about 164,000 times.

Also taken with the clip? Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who tweeted Wednesday, “I would like to meet you, @BetoORourke.”

DeGeneres is known for having people featured in viral internet moments on her show. She’s also not a stranger to inviting politicians to her couch: California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” earlier this year, for example.

RELATED: UT got in formation for ‘Ellen’ with these Beyoncé costumes

Cruz, who is currently ahead of O’Rourke in the polls by single digits, responded to this latest viral moment at a campaign event in Corpus Christi. (Yes, the home of Whataburger. All roads in Texas lead to Whataburger.)

“When Beto O’Rourke says he can’t think of anything more American, well I got to tell you, I can,” Cruz said, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The senator cited military service members standing at attention for the anthem as an example, the paper reported.

Respect

Singer Aretha Franklin was the undisputed “queen of soul,” and after news of her death at 76 broke earlier this month, the king of the outlaws paid his respects.

On Franklin’s death, country music star and Austin icon Willie Nelson tweeted, “Whether it was Gospel, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Pop, or Civil Rights, Aretha Franklin was the greatest gift and the voice of a generation. She could turn any song into a hymn. She will be greatly missed here on earth, but that band in heaven just got our Angel. Rest In Peace Aretha.”

Franklin and Nelson covered each other’s songs, too, according to country music site the Boot. The former recorded a version of “Night Life” on her album “Aretha Arrives,” and the latter included a rendition of “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” on his album “Always On My Mind.”

They’re number bun

Southern Living is on the case, y’all. According to the lifestyle magazine, Texas has been hiding something from the rest of America. Burgers. The “best” burgers. And they’re keeping them right here in Austin.

The magazine profiled “the most beloved place in Austin” recently: P. Terry’s. Southern Living noted P. Terry’s fries, which supposedly make patrons want to “ugly cry”; unique cooking methods; and the corn syrup-free ketchup and other natural ingredients as reasons the local chain stands out.

The magazine also sadly noted that owner Patrick Terry has previously confirmed to Eater that he has no plans to expand into a national chain because he says he’s “too old.”

P. Terry’s shared the article on their Instagram account, saying they were “extremely flattered” and thanking their Austin fan base.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

No bragging rights here

Compared to the other 49 states, Texas fares well when it comes to many measurements. Its population and economy continue to grow at a record pace. It contains the country’s best city to live in — Austin, according to U.S. News and World Report. It is the second-most diverse state in America, according to personal finance site WalletHub.

When it comes to gender equality, however, the state has fewer bragging rights. Or at least, according to another list published by WalletHub, which ranks the state the third-worst for equal treatment for women.

In compiling the list, WalletHub looked at factors like the gap between genders when it came to income, work hours and the number of executive positions held in each state. The study also looked at the number of women serving in representative positions in each state.

The factors considered were split into three categories (workplace environment; education and health; and political empowerment) and ranked. The separate categorical rankings were then averaged for an overall ranking and a position on the list.

Texas ranked No. 47 when it came to political empowerment, No. 45 in education and health and No. 37 in workplace environment. The state was also found to be the third-worst when it comes to gender equality in political representation.

According to the list, the state where women receive the least-equal treatment is Utah, and the top state is New York.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

Li’l Sebastian?

Miniature horses will soon be allowed as service animals on all Southwest flights. Dogs and cats were already allowed as service animals, but new guidelines from the airline that go into effect Sept. 17 specifically mention miniature horses as acceptable service animals.

According to Texas Monthly, miniature horses were apparently already allowed as service animals on Southwest flights, but the species of horse wasn’t specified. Other “unusual or exotic animals” like rodents, ferrets, insects, spiders, reptiles, hedgehogs, rabbits and sugar gliders were prohibited, however.

Now, you may be asking, why would anyone use a horse as a service animal? The tiny steeds can actually be trained to do tasks just like service dogs, and are strong enough to pull a wheelchair and tall enough to act as a balance support. Plus, they’re just really, really cute.

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff

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