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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The political columnist Molly Ivins has died after battling breast cancer. The liberal satirist was 62 years old. And the people issuing statement of condolence include the president that she famously called shrub. Last night her fellow Texan, President Bush, issued a statement saying, I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words, and her ability to turn a phrase.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn has this remembrance.

WADE GOODWYN: From the time she was 15 years old, Molly Ivins wanted to be a newspaper reporter. She started out taking complaints at the Houston Chronicle, and in short order worked her way up to become a celebrated beat reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But it was the 1960s, an era of profound political ferment, and by '69 Ivins had had enough of conventional newspaper editors.

Ms. MOLLY IVINS (Newspaper Columnist): I had sort of given up on conventional journalism. I found it far too restrictive. I couldn't find any way to tell the truth in a regular newspaper.

GOODWYN: In an interview last October, Molly Ivins described how the civil rights and anti-war movements informed her decision to return to Texas.

Ms. IVINS: I really felt that this was such a serious time that I should give up all thoughts of a conventional career, joining The New York Times or winning the Pulitzer Prize, and I should go home and help bring about the revolution. So I came home to help bring about the revolution, and really very few people were grateful.

GOODWYN: Ivins became editor of the independent political journal The Texas Observer in 1970 and covered the Texas legislature. She was astounded at the raw open corruption she found there, and with her sense of humor and her ability to tell stories she made herself famous and the Texas legislature infamous.

Ms. IVINS: The legislature was fairly corrupt in those days. And the fact that it was, and that everybody knew it and that people laughed about it struck me as worth reporting. I mean the language was incredibly colorful and often quite filthy. The grammar was bad and it was just hysterical. And newspapers had been in the habit of cleaning all this up for years. And I thought I'll put it in the way it is.

GOODWYN: After a stint at The New York Times, Ivins returned to Texas to write newspaper columns and books. Her book "Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?" brought her national recognition and she became a commentator for NPR's MORNING EDITION. She wrote two books about George W. Bush with co-author Lou DuBose. Her Creative Syndicate column went to 340 newspapers around the country, many in small markets. Dubose says Ivins became a lifeline to small town liberals across America.

Mr. LOU DUBOSE (Author): When her column appeared in small market newspapers, she was a lot of people's link to sanity. They were in a political world in which they were completely alienated, and Molly was it in so many small towns. The appreciation and the veneration that a lot of people across this country had for her was really something to behold.

GOODWYN: Molly Ivins was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, but she continued to write until her death.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News.

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