Then he tried on an old pair of Ronald Reagan's shoes, but they were too big.
And now he's parading around in Pat Brown's pajamas.
Like many Californians, I liked much of what Gov. Schwarzenegger talked about in his State of the State speech Thursday. He said he'd like to fix highways, build schools and fortify levees.
But he didn't just talk, nor did he merely dream. He seemed to be hallucinating, putting a bigger price tag on such projects — $222 billion — than even the Democrats had proposed.
While watching him talk, I wondered if members of the California Republican Assembly were having seizures. (Did he say billion — with a B?) They were already threatening to draft Mel Gibson if Schwarzenegger didn't shape up, pushing "Braveheart" into the ring against Conan.
Look, I know a lot of people think it was a smart move on Schwarzenegger's part to admit his mistakes and reinvent himself again Thursday, and they may be right. As the argument goes, Schwarzenegger is coming back to the safe California center for reelection purposes after last year's hard right swing ended in disaster.
But this ain't the center. With his latest bungee jump from the Capitol rotunda, Schwarzenegger crash-landed to the left of all his likely Democratic challengers. If he's still going to try to sell himself as the anti-politician, it might help to do something, here and there, that doesn't look like a desperate political lurch.
Of course, some observers insist this is no put-on, and we're now seeing the real Arnold.
How can anyone know?
From everything I've seen, the man's having a three-year, full-blown identity crisis.
Does Maria even know whom she's married to?
And who is she, anyway?
To the extent that Shriver was behind Thursday's performance, are we to assume she thought it would look perfectly kosher for the governor to do a political 180 in a span of a few months?
He reneged on a $2-billion school-funding promise. Now he's the educators' best friend.
He cut $10 million last year from a highway improvement bill. Now he wants to build an autobahn.
He's the anti-tax crusader who wanted to cut up the state's credit card and rein in spending. Now he's Der Schwarzenbonder, with a plan that would add $68 billion more to the existing mountain of debt he helped build.
I don't want to be a party pooper, but is there really much of a difference between bond repayment and new taxes?