Ron White is one of the most successful comedians of the 21st century. Known fondly as "Tater Salad," White earned about $10 million in 2013, making him the 10th highest-paid comedian, according to Forbes Magazine.
White is a comedic road warrior, performing hundreds of live shows every year, including two shows Oct. 3 at the Silver Legacy Resort. His full-length comedy special, "A Little Unprofessional," was nominated for Best Comedy Album at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in January.
But White wasn't joking when he told this writer that he officially declared his candidacy for president of the United States of America. White will run as an independent.
"I just signed the paperwork," White said in late September by phone from Southern California. "I'm very serious about this. Will I be elected? Of course not. But I think I can help with a few things as far as spreading a message is concerned."
White isn't concerned that he's never held a political office.
"I realized I don't have to be qualified," he said. "You don't have to know economics to hire an economist. It's scary. We're not going to spend a ton of money. We'll try to raise money and see where it goes."
What he does have are humble roots that keep him anchored to most people's everyday issues.
"I have no formal education at all," he said. "I'm smart, but you'll have a tough time proving that on paper. I have a very common-sense approach to life. That's what got me to where I am. I didn't start with a thing. My family was very rural from a small town in northwest Texas. I had a hard time finding my way."
White worked his way for a decade before becoming a household name in 2000 as a charter member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour with Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy. White made a few appearances on television sitcoms and in the films "Sex and the City 2" and "Horrible Bosses," but prefers performing live.
"I'm a comedian," he said. "I do stand-up. That's my deal and they pay me very well to do it. I'm very particular with what I am and am not willing to do. I'm not selling dog food or making (bad) movies. Why the (heck) would I do that? There was a time in my life where I would have (expletive phrase deleted) for a beer, but I'm a bit older and, I think, a bit wiser."
White also frequently performs for troops overseas and received the Armed Forces Foundation's "Patriot Award" in 2009 for his work raising money for wounded soldiers. He also held benefit shows to raise money for victims of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.
Now, White's ready to toss his proverbial scotch-drinking, cigarette-smoking self into the political arena to spread the message about what he feels is an urgent issue: The legalization of cannabis across the United States.
"I'm rolling a joint as we speak," he said. "When I smoke I don't have to worry about anyone finding me passed out on asphalt somewhere. It's so real, so peaceful. People say marijuana makes you paranoid. The fact is, somebody made it illegal and that's what makes you paranoid.
"So one of my main objectives is to make it legal all across the nation. I would redirect every dime of taxpayers' money from pot smoking and go after these meth labs with both guns. Every second the police spend looking for pot smokers, these (expletive deleted) are killing our kids."
White knows what it's like to be a handcuffed pot smoker. In 2008, two disgruntled ex-employees of White told Florida police that White's plane was carrying narcotics. It wasn't. White, who tells of this incident in his special "A Little Unprofessional," which is airing on Netflix, was arrested for less than a gram of cannabis.
"You'd think they'd found three meth labs and a dead hooker, not three-fourths of a gram of marijuana," White said. "You can look at my mug shot from that incident and you can tell I was (angry), but I knew how ridiculous it was what they were doing.
"When they realized it wasn't a drug-dealing plane, they could have said, 'Sorry for inconveniencing you, Mr. White. Please forgive us.' But instead they put me in jail as if I were running wild with a rabid pit bull and shooting somebody's poodle."
From this painful situation, a comedy bit was born. As the best comics are apt to do, White has an innate ability to turn tragedy into comedy.
"The next night I was two hours late for the show, but nobody left and I opened with 10 minutes on what happened," he said. "I don't know why I can do it. My brain just processes information that way. I can't teach my brain hardly anything else, but it does that pretty well."
When touring, White usually travels with his wife Margo Rey, a singer, songwriter and composer from Mexico who's had several songs on Billboard's Adult Contemporary and Hot Dance Club Songs charts, and their two Scottish terriers. The dogs frequently make an appearance with White when he performs.
"But the real entertainer in my family is my wife," he said of Rey, his third wife. "She's a classically trained opera and pop singer with a four-and-a-half vocal octave range. My jokes are BS. Margo is the real deal. After five minutes of listening to her, I'm just slobbering over myself. She's a walking Stradivarius."
She's also a loving stress-reliever.
"I only have sex with my wife now," he said. "I don't have sex with other women. I've been married before and that hasn't always been my policy. But Margo is a fascinating creature with unbelievable talent. I remind myself all the time, 'Look at who you're standing with. Amazing.'"