California is finally fighting back. After seeing every junction with a stop light between here and Des Moines trying to pick off local businesses, the California Trade and Commerce Agency launched an advertising counteroffensive last Tuesday. The message is that, whatever our problems, California is "still the Golden State," home to such "native Californians" as the personal computer, Zinfandel wine, the skateboard, the fortune cookie, the stealth bomber and blue jeans.

The ads, paid for mainly with about $13 million in private donations from major California corporations and advertising companies, are appearing in both state and national newspapers and economic-development journals, as well as on radio, television and cable outlets. The campaign, organized by several advertising agencies led by Kresser/Craig of Santa Monica, is set to run through the end of next year and is already making waves by attacking Arizona, Nevada and Texas.

One of the ads, for example, targets the "tall tales" that Texas is telling about California and its "unmerciful mother nature." The ad goes on, with provocative rhetoric: "What they don't mention is their own subzero weather, alternating with three-shower-a-day humidity. Along with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and mosquitoes that require runways to land."

An acquaintance of ours from Houston concedes the humidity, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. But he angrily disputes the business about the mosquitoes as libelous. What they have in Texas, he says, are cockroaches big enough to drive Volkswagens.

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