by RIP RENSE
CLOWNING AROUND. . .
(Aug. 20, 2003)
"Handicapping" is a most apt
verb for describing the recall election. This thing is crippled. It has one short leg and 135 heads. (Well, 134
1/2, when you count Schwarzenegger.) It is not a circus, as the media customarily
says---it is the stuff left behind after the circus leaves. Somewhere near the pachyderm
pen (and if you read Republican conspiracy into that sentence, go right ahead.)
This whole elephantine mess started, after all,
when a bunch of energy company crooks in Texas, who are friends of the energy company
crooks running the administration in Washington D.C., set out to ruin Gray Davis with a fake energy crisis. They
artificially jacked up rates, created fake "brown-outs," and gouged the state. When Davis
appealed to Bush for help, well, Christ would have had an easier time asking Pilate for a
Not that Davis exactly helps himself.
This is a lifer bureaucrat with no particular leadership ability---you know, like most
people in government. An ex-Marine and reputedly a bright, decent man, the Guv has all the
charisma of a junior high school principal. As has been observed too many times, Gray is
aptly named. At the certainty of dating myself here, the poor fellow is frighteningly
evocative of Pat Paulsen. Pat would have
brought the house down with Davis's hilarious "I'm going to fight like a Bengal
And so we are left with---okay, I give
up---this circus. Now, I don't generally have a problem with circuses, except for
cruelty to animals and the clowns. Clowns really scare me. Which brings us to Arnold
The idea that this man has high
polls numbers---though now trailing Lt. Gov Cruz Bustamente in this Latino-heavy
state---is a challenging one to grasp. Take a giant step back, folks, and say it out loud:
Arnold Schwarzenegger could become California governor. Substitute "Daffy
Duck" in that sentence, and it is only slightly more believable. Daffy, after all, is
a much greater star.
But let's take him seriously, just for fun.
What prepares Schwarzenegger to run in this recall election? As near as I can tell, it is
the fact that he starred in a movie called "Total Recall." But here are the main
qualifications that the candidate himself cited in remarks to reporters:
He has helped to run the President's Council on
Physical Fitness, and the Special Olympics.
I'm not kidding. He hasn't said much else, but
he said this.
All quips about how working for the
Special Olympics prepares one to deal with politics aside, this is the extent of the man's
naivete. He really believes that strolling about, signing autographs, smiling, encouraging
young people to be physically fit, qualifies him to run California.
Well, somebody seems to have set Schwarzenegger
straight, because after the Special Olympics comment, he promptly shut up, disappeared,
and hired a bunch of super-rich, arch-right Republicans to tell him what to do: Gov. Pete
"187" Wilson, billionare Warren "Raise Property Taxes" Buffet, and
Reagan Administration dinosaur George "Sphinx" Schulz. (Psst---hey, Arnie, I
understand the former admiral John Poindexter needs a job, since his failed attempt to
turn terrorism into a kind of investment market bloodsport.)
Yes, the obvious rap about
Schwarzenegger is that he is an actor, not a politician, but I say that the real rap about
him is that he is a weightlifter, not an actor. Calling this man an actor is like calling
Bill Clinton a husband. Everything you need
to know about Schwarzenegger may be learned from watching the documentary of his rise to
muscularity: "Pumping Iron." It reveals a thoroughly arrogant, crude,
pot-smoking egomaniac who takes great pleasure in belittling rival Lou Ferrigno.
(Ferrigno, incidentally, is a very nice fellow with a generous spririt---let's start a
Okay, enough Schwarzeniggling. On to clown # 2,
Arianna Huffington. Now, Arianna has made quite a reputation for herself in recent years
as a born-again populist knocking the "fat cats" and the "Pigs at the
Trough," to quote the title of her fine book, in her excellent syndicated column. But
she has done several things since declaring candidacy that have put her square in the
center ring, steering a miniature train pulled by a team of chihuahuas.
First were her taxes, or lack of
same. The woman who has heroically, doggedly exposed the hideous corruption that passes
for government turns out to have. . .paid almost no taxes for the past two years, while
living in a $7 million Beverly Hills mansion. Okay, so maybe she got the house from
ex-hubbie trough-pig Repugnican Michael Huffington. . .And I can tell you that trying to
make a living as a freelance writer is a lot like writing for free---but. . .deducting
$10,000 for cosmetics? Hey, Arianna, just get some clown-white---it's cheaper.
Well, it pains me to criticize her, given that
her columns so courageously
and correctly expose the hijacking of public interest by corporate lobbyists. I was even
ready to forgive her on the tax and cosmetics thing. I mean, who doesn't want to save
money and face at the same time? But then I read that her campaign manager, Dean Barkley,
is a (gasp, cough, sputter) lobbyist for the tobacco industry! Seems that Ms.
Huffington didn't know about Mr. Puffington; his blowing smoke on behalf of coffin nails
was a surprise to her. What's more, she said that had she known, she would never have
hired the guy!
Toot toot! All aboaarrddd the
Chihuahua Train. Now leaving, center ring.
On the other hand, Barkley's bite is mitigated,
says Arianna, by his support for public financing of campaigns---which she plans to push
if elected. And she does want to bump property taxes up---for corporations--- (hooray),
repeal the car tax increase (hooray again.) Then there is the billion-buck pay raise for
prison guards that she wants to cancel, and instead give the dough to schools
("books, not bars," is her slogan.) Finally, to be fair, the lady did dole out a
ton of payroll tax. . .
So hold that train for the moment, and
consider a few other bozos:
Peter "1984 Olympic Surplus" Ueberroth
seems to merit his reputation as a sound and sensible financial manager. Me, I'm not
interested in having a sound and sensible finance manager as a leader.
Lieutenant Gov. Bustamente proclaims that he
wants to "exempt the first $20,000 of every automobile's value from the increase in
the car tax," and raise taxes on cigarettes and booze. I'll drink and drive to that.
Bill Simon? A simpleton. He should get a job
baking pies. And why has no one written an article about this man's private collection of
um, automatic weapons---of which is he reportedly very proud?
Gallagher, the comedian, is not funny enough to
be governor. Come to think of it, he's not funny enough to be a comedian.
Part of me would like to recommend
voting for some of the chance-less. I think Badi Badiozamani deserves a vote just
on the basis of his name. Howard Allen Gershater? Hey, who doesn't hate gers? And
I must say that Gary Coleman is without a doubt the most impressive speaker in the whole
pack. If he had some brains, plans and ideas to back up his no-bull persona, he'd actually
have a shot. Voting for Angelyne's plasticene breasts, collagen-lumpy face, scalpel
reconfigured anatomy, spacey eyeballs and pink Corvette is a lot like voting. . .for
But come hell or Darrell Issa---the man who
bankrolled out-of-state gypsy petition-gatherers to artificially create this recall in the
first place---I've firmly, resolutely, and without the slightest reservation decided to
get out there and vote. . .
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