Conspiracy, in theory

Has Gray Davis been killed and replaced by a double? Rumors are sweeping Sacramento this week after Democrats released a mysterious "greatest hits" CD of Davis speeches (total playing time: 90 seconds).

According to conspiracy theorists, the disc is loaded with clues about the governor's demise. Exhibit A is the cover photo, which shows Davis walking across a street with three other candidates. He is barefoot, a symbol of death, and out of step with his rivals, who represent (from left to right) an Indian chief, a taxman and a cyborg from the future. When the CD is played backward, a voice with an Austrian accent says, "I buried Gray."

A spokesman for the governor insists there is no Davis double. "Where would we find someone else with hair like that?" he asked.

Davis agreed: "I'm toast, but I'm not dead."

Conspiracy buffs believe the governor was bumped off by union goons in August, after Democrats realized he would lose the recall election. He was then replaced with a look-alike from the prison guards' union.

"It's a brilliant plan," said one political insider. "Now, whenever someone accuses 'Davis' of botching the energy crisis or concealing the size of the deficit before last November's election, he can truthfully say it wasn't his fault."

Other telltale signs that the governor has been replaced with a doppelgänger:

Davis is suspiciously absent from his own TV commercials.

The old Davis vetoed a bill to allow illegal immigrants to have California driver's licenses. The new Davis signed it enthusiastically. And that's just for starters. Davis' double has also switched positions on five other bills since the recall began.

On Davis' new greatest hits CD, several of the speech titles seem to hint at foul play, including "Here Comes the Gun," "I (Don't) Feel Fine" and "Help! (I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up)."

Davis has been behaving strangely. At "town hall" meetings, he tries to interact with voters and seem human. The old Davis had no personality. Also, the real Davis was an amazing dancer. "Few voters know this, but Gray taught Michael Jackson how to moonwalk," said one Democrat. "Now when I see him trying to groove at campaign rallies, he's wooden and awkward. It's just not like him."

Apologies R Us

Arnold "Predator" Schwarzenegger's statement that he "behaved badly" around women has set off a wave of other candidate apologies. Porn star Mary Carey now admits she has been "very, very naughty" toward men and "probably deserves a spanking." And Gov. Davis has formally apologized for "screwing California's 33 million residents."

Quote of the day

From ex-Gov. Jerry Brown, on CNN: "It's obvious Schwarzenegger is qualified. I mean, what does it take to become a governor? I've been there, I've known all the governors since Earl Warren's time. And basically, if you have above-average intelligence, you have common sense, and you can speak in front of a camera and to a crowd, you can govern the state. I mean, after all, the governing process includes the Legislature, a very competent civil service, and all sorts of rules and regulations that guide the state on its way. So, the whole thing about experience is a canard."

Kiss of death?

In a major setback for Democrats, professional windbag Arianna Huff-n-stuff is now campaigning against the recall (after previously campaigning for it, then against it and then for it again).

In light of her soaring popularity (a new poll shows her getting fewer votes than Angelyne, and Jay Leno joked that her threat to withdraw from the race would generate as much sympathy as "Saddam Hussein threatening to commit suicide"), her endorsement of Davis should pretty much finish him off.

Late-night blotter

"Over 10,000 people have signed a petition to recall Gov. Schwarzenegger. I'm sorry, that's next year's joke." (Craig Kilborn)

"The L.A. Times had a big story about how hard it is to cut off the money that funds terrorist organizations. See, this would be a great job for Gov. Davis. Put him in charge of Al Qaeda and they'd be broke in a week." (Jay Leno)

"You could tell Arianna Huffington's campaign was starting to lose momentum. She called Schwarzenegger and said, 'Hey, were you serious when you said you had a part for me in "Terminator 4"?' " (Leno)

"It's now being reported that when Cruz Bustamante finally got his college degree in 2003, he received credit for a class he never even attended. But he said it wasn't an important class. I think it was just ethics or something." (Leno)

E-mail roy.rivenburg@latimes.com.

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