Pledging allegiance to the Cocktail Party

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If the recall election operated like a Miss America pageant (Warning: Do not attempt to envision Cruz Bustamante in a swimsuit competition without medical supervision), Reva Renee Renz might have a shot.

The blond cocktail lounge owner has been described as "the candidate with the best legs" (although, in fairness, we should note that nobody is sure what kind of gams Gray Davis is hiding under his drab suits). And her smile is to a journalist what a klieg light is to a moth.

Then again, maybe our judgment is impaired by our previous candidate interviews: a 220-pound sumo wrestler and a 315-pound ex-football player.

Anyway, it's a Tuesday afternoon and we're sitting inside Deva's Bar, the Tustin watering hole owned by Renz, discussing important campaign issues, such as whether she would open a saloon inside the governor's mansion.

"There's not one there already?" she asks. "Judging from the legislation getting passed, I assume they've consumed a lot of cocktails. I'd probably have to set a drink maximum."

Republican Renz, a 36-year-old model-turned-waitress-turned-real-estate-agent-turned-clothier-turned-waitress(again)-turned-stockbroker-turned-tavern-owner, does have a serious platform — such as requiring convicted drunken drivers to install ignition interlock devices on their cars to prevent their vehicles from starting unless the driver blows into a breathalyzer and is deemed sober.

OK, but what about other pressing issues? We want to know if she'll promise to turn California into a state where everybody knows your name. "I'd pass a law to extend last call by one hour," she offers. And whereas other candidates have vowed to set up a blue-ribbon commission to study the budget deficit, Renz promises to convene a distinguished panel to choose an official state drink.

In the meantime, thumbing through a well-worn bartenders' guide to shooters, she assigns official drinks to several of her gubernatorial rivals. Porn actress Mary Carey? A "Purple Hooter." Gray Davis, in liquid form, becomes a "What Crisis?" (and he gets "a triple shot to go with his tripling of the car tax"); Bustamante is an "Indian Summer" cocktail, in recognition of his chief source of campaign donations; former baseball czar Peter Ueberroth is a "Grand Slammer"; and Arianna Huffington gets a "Sit Down and Shut Up."

Conspiracies R Us

For weeks, Democrats have been spouting off about various "right-wing conspiracies" to "steal the election" and "disenfranchise the lobbyists that have hijacked our party."

Psychiatrists have dismissed the theories as paranoid delusions, especially after Gray Davis told a town hall meeting in San Francisco that space aliens from the planet Zortron forced him to ignore the state energy crisis for six months and then sign contracts that gouge residents on electricity rates.

But now it appears the Democrats may be onto something. On Tuesday, state Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres issued a statement accusing Taco Bell of conspiring to rig the results of a mock poll in which purchases of beef tacos count as votes for Arnold Schwarzenegger and chicken soft tacos are tallied as support for Davis. Seriously.

"Even in Chicago no one would try to pull off such a rigged 'election,' " Torres said. "Beef tacos at 74 cents always outsell chicken tacos, which cost $1.50."

Taco Bell spokeswoman Laurie Schalow said the price discrepancy had been factored into the poll results. "Obviously, it's not a real poll," she added.

Late-night blotter

From David Letterman's Top 10 real reasons Serena and Venus Williams aren't playing in the U.S. Open: "Surprise! We're running for governor of California."

More Letterman: "The latest polls show that Arnold Schwarzenegger is trailing Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. That's insane. I mean, think about it. This guy Cruz Bustamante has never even been in a movie."


Senior advisors: Heather John, Ann Harrison, Mark Barabak, Pete Metzger, "Recall Madness" runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in Calendar. E-mail comments to

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