It’s hard for me to believe that it’s already time for a revival of the life and work of Molly Ivins, the Texas journalist and political commentator who died in 2007 at age 62. But that’s what is happening with a new documentary, “Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.”

I saw the film in Houston when it played recently to a sellout crowd not too far from the house Ms. Ivins grew up in posh River Oaks, where she learned the art of skewering the pompous and wrongheaded during dinner table arguments with her daddy.

The only thing disappointing about “Raise Hell” was the audience itself, which was mostly gray-haired, some propped up with canes and walkers. The air was so thick with liberal nostalgia I thought for a fleeting moment that Ann Richards was up for re-election.

Because it would be a terrible shame for younger viewers — especially young progressives — to miss the movie, what with all the current talk of Texas maybe-kinda-sorta turning blue and a (hopefully) re-energized state Democratic Party. Just because Ms. Ivins has been gone for a dozen years doesn’t mean her words and deeds don’t still apply.

Six feet tall in size 12 flats, she could seem larger than life, with a tornado of strawberry blond hair swirling about her head and a mind and a tongue sharper than that proverbial serpent’s tooth. For nearly four decades, Ms. Ivins relentlessly and often mercilessly held state and national politicians to account, famously tagging George W. Bush with the nickname “Shrub” and infamously suggesting that a speech given by the conservative pundit and presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan at the 1992 Republican convention “was probably better in the original German.”

By the time she died of cancer, Ms. Ivins had become so well-known — as an outspoken best-selling writer, syndicated columnist and professional wit — that she was one of those first-name-only people, like Cher and Madonna. At least she was in Texas, where she grew up and where she always found her best material. She had the loudest voice for progressive politics the state had ever heard, and if you shared her views, you were a little less lonely whenever her opinions showed up in print, especially during the 1970s, when she worked at The Texas Observer. Corruption, bigotry and mind-boggling stupidity were rampant back then — as now, alas — but Ms. Ivins and her co-editor, Kaye Northcott, often seemed to be the only reporters willing to call out the criminals, bigots and idiots for what they were.

Often, their targets didn’t quite get it. As Ms. Ivins recalled of those days, after she reported in The Observer that some “egg-suck’” pol “ran on all fours and had the mind of an adolescent pissant,” he’d “beam, spread his arms and holler, ‘Baby! Yew put mah name in yore paper!’”

But maybe they did get it. I used to think that her Professional Texan act was just that, but I see now that it was also a way to show that we Texans were all in it together, and that the things that united us — our expressiveness and expansiveness, our culture and our nearly inexplicable love of a nearly uninhabitable place — were more important than our divisions.

More important, before Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert — and their teams of writers — Ms. Ivins was a one-woman humor mill, churning out finely honed one-liners that would today send President Trump into an envy meltdown. Unlike so many partisans on the left — and like our current president, truth be told — she understood that “the best way to get the sons of bitches is to make people laugh at them.” She was nonpartisan in her attacks: Camille Paglia was a “crassly egocentric raving twit.” Bill Clinton was “weaker than bus station chili.” Ross Perot was “all hawk and no spit,” while Ronald Reagan “proved that ignorance is no handicap to the presidency.” She famously said of our former speaker of the House Gib Lewis, “If his I.Q. slips any lower, we’ll have to water him twice a day.” That she bullied the bullies made her a local hero at first, and then a national one.

Ms. Ivins wasn’t typically telegenic, even though she became a talk-TV star. She was always happiest barefoot and in jeans; she’s impossible to imagine with Botox and fill, first because she was so adamantly and aggressively un-vain, and second because she understood that her authenticity was her strength.

“Raise Hell” also shows that her success didn’t come easily and how hard it was to be the supersize smart girl in a place and time where only show-offs read books and the only women who mattered were gifted at wielding pompoms. As her fame grew, Ms. Ivins was sometimes experienced better at a distance than close up. She could be as vulgar as she was articulate, she admittedly drank too much, and she was not terribly interested in sharing the spotlight.

But she used her private struggles to fuel her public work, which was to call out injustice in all its forms — to let her followers know “who is getting screwed and who is doing the screwing.”

It’s almost unnerving to see how prescient Ms. Ivins was: In the 1970s and ’80s she was already writing about threats to free speech and, even with legal abortion, the ricketiness of women’s reproductive rights. She foresaw the relentless expansion of mass incarceration and the rise of inequality and growing social, economic and racial divisions. (“Polarizing people is a good way to win an election and a good way to wreck a country,” she wrote.) The issues unraveling the edges of American democracy, she often said, weren’t left to right, but top to bottom. (To drive home the point, she once called George W. Bush “a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America.”) Politicians work for the people, not the other way around, an Ivins sentiment that could surely use a revival all its own.

At a time when so many people have lost faith in government or been cowed into silence or been sucked into yet another pointless Twitter war, it’s bracing to remember Ms. Ivins’s unrelenting joy in fighting for what was nothing more than right and fair.

Even before she got sick, she knew how to make the best use of her days. “I just want to urge you all,” she said to an adoring crowd in a clip near the end of the film, “have a good time while you are fighting for freedom. First of all, we don’t always win, and it might get to be the only fun you’ll ever have. And second of all, it’s a better way to live.”

It was a better way to live, and you know what? “Raise Hell” shows that it still can be.

Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, is a contributing opinion writer.

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