If you like politics battered Southern style with humor and jocularity, stop by the bookstore when you exchange gifts and pick up "Mississippi Fried Politics: Tall Tales from the Back Rooms" by Jere Nash and Andy Taggart.

You can read about the time WLBT's Bert Case and his cameraman caught legislators at a pool party with whiskey and women, and how that broadcast ended his relationship with Speaker of the House Buddy Newman. The book includes the curious story of how former NAACP leader Aaron Henry interceded to help former Gov. Ross Barnett check-in to a resistant Washington, D.C. hotel. Find out about how an irate good ole boy from Itawamba County confronted Gov. Bill Waller because he was sure the dog pictured in the Waller family Christmas card actually belonged to him. Mississippi oratory recounted includes Soggy Sweat's whiskey speech, Fannie Lou Hamer's Freedom Democratic Party convention testimony, and a transcript of the conversation between President John F. Kennedy and Gov. Barnett that began with riots in Oxford and ended with thanks for supporting poultry programs.

Nash and Taggart recount 120 anecdotes over 232 pages. Photographs of memorable Mississippi moments flavor the book including the cover shot of Gov. Cliff Finch and Kentucky Fried Chicken's Colonel Harland Sanders, from which comes the title.

With vignette titles like "Scounelbooger," "Never kiss the ground when the governor is looking," and "Cuba & Ole Miss," I asked the authors about their favorite stories that did not make it into the book.

Taggart laughed about a feisty early female legislator whose frustration over the lack of a conveniently placed women's bathroom led to an incident that they just couldn't print, "and you couldn't print this in the newspaper either." Nash said Bert Case gave them the full two-year story of his infamous encounter with Governor Kirk Fordice that was just too long to include adequately.

"We actually did remove some stories so as not to hurt anyone's feelings, and a few we changed to be anonymous," Taggart said. "The book is purposely lighthearted. We did it to have fun. Neither of us have the slightest interest in publishing a scandal sheet."

The book features stories of thong legislation, bathroom practical jokes, prison escapees, and stealing elections. With modern media like talk radio and online coverage, I wondered if politicians wouldn't curtail some of their behavior to keep it more private, robbing future generations of similar stories from today. "The stories I hear from the current legislature would make you believe things haven't changed that much," Nash said.

If the same book were written in 20 years, I asked the authors about whom, besides Haley Barbour, would we be reading. Taggart suggested Steve Holland, Billy Hewes, Bennie Thompson, John Horhn and George Flaggs. Nash deadpanned, "The ones I can think of are not that funny."

Unlike their previous book, "Mississippi Politics: The Struggle for Power, 1976-2006," this book is self-published by Nash and Taggart who say they've had an education on the business side of books: negotiating with book brokers, handling distribution, marketing and sales. "It took us longer to get the ISBN number than to write the book," Nash said. In the first six weeks, the two have sold about 2,000 of the 5000 press run.

University Press of Mississippi published their first book that sold around 6,500 copies, and will soon see a second edition with new chapters covering the political years 2007 and 2008.

Nash and Taggart's writings join other Mississippi political tomes. "The lions of modern political culture are nearing the ends of their careers," said Taggart, "and we're fortunate that they are publishing their memoirs." Recent years have witnessed the publication of "Amidst the Fray: My Life in Politics, Culture, and Mississippi" by William D. Mounger and Joe Maxwell, "Straight Ahead: The Memoirs of a Mississippi Governor" by Bill Waller, and "The Measure of Our Days: Writings of William F. Winter" by Winter and Andrew Mullins. Two more books by founders of the modern Mississippi Republican Party are in works with Nash assisting Clark Reed of Greenville, and Maxwell assisting Wirt Yerger of Jackson.

Combine those above with the Erle Johnston trilogy - "I Rolled With Ross," "Politics Mississippi Style" and "Mississippi's Defiant Years 1953-1973" - and other recent books by Mississippi politicos - Trent Lott's "Herding Cats: A Life in Politics," "Twice Told Tombigbee Tales" by Judge Michael Mills as well as two books I was honored to assist with, "Supreme Chaos: The Politics of Judicial Confirmation & the Culture War" and "A Price Too High: The Judiciary in Jeopardy" both by Charles Pickering - and a student of Mississippi politics has a book a month for 2009 to read and get the inside scoop on governors, senators and judges.

But, to get started, pick up a copy of "Mississippi Fried Politics" as a political appetizer.

Brian Perry of Jackson, a former congressional aide, is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.