California Dreamin' in Summer of Political, Financial Delirium

Hear now, tales of sunstroke and lightheadedness from up and down the Golden State, where politics and natural disaster are indistinguishable:

Arnold Schwarzenegger has all but declared his candidacy for governor. One insider tells me his team has been busily rounding up endorsements, presumably from the Hulk and Charlie's Angels. By week's end, Conan the Republican may be joined by several other delusional multimillionaires looking for a new hobby.

Money is now rolling into my campaign for governor, with network TV demanding interviews.

And the state Democratic brain trust, whose leaders have been badmouthing Republicans for sabotaging a budget agreement, got caught conspiring to do that very thing.

Regarding the last item, not since Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's home video snuck onto the Internet has there been an "outing" this revealing. Unbeknownst to Assembly Dems, some of their chatter about prolonging the budget crisis was broadcast throughout the Capitol.

Maybe it would be a good idea to "precipitate a crisis" this year, Assemblyman Fabian Nunez of Los Angeles said at the closed-door session. "If you don't have a budget, it helps Democrats."

"It seems to me if there's going to be a crisis, the crisis should be this year," said Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, a lefty flame-thrower from way back. Goldberg was also heard calculating reelection possibilities for colleagues who sabotage a budget agreement.

When informed that a squawk box (other than herself) had been broadcasting the meeting around Sacramento, Goldberg responded with surprise and a couple of expletives. Once she gathered herself, instinct took over and she went on the attack, chewing out Republicans for eavesdropping.

So what else was said at the meeting? Oddly enough, a transcript has fallen into my possession, and I can only assume it's from that same meeting.

Speaker 1: I'd like to second what Assemblyman Nunez said -- if we don't have a budget, it helps Democrats.

Speaker 2: Yes, but that means it helps Gray Davis. None of us can feel good about furthering his career, even if we are Democrats.

Speaker 3: Look, if we torpedo a budget agreement, we're sticking it to students and the working poor, and we're basically lying to the public.

Speaker 1: And your point is?

Speaker 3: My point is we're burning the village to save it.

Speaker 5: Speaking of three-alarm fires, where's Jackie Goldberg? She was here just a minute ago.

Speaker 6: I think she went out to kick the wall. I swear to God, we should run Jackie against Arnold. If you put the two of them in the ring together, she'd rip his arms off.

Speaker 2: Hey, that microphone's not on, is it?

Meanwhile, in the nearby Republican caucus room:

Speaker 1: Can you believe it? They didn't realize the squawk box was on. Now we've got reporters chasing after Goldberg and the rest of those pinko hypocrites. It worked!

Speaker 2: So let's get back to business. Lopping off the funding for seeing-eye dogs was a PR disaster, but now we've got a motion on the table to sell off state parks. Do I hear a second?

Speaker 3: We've already got city parks and national parks.

Speaker 4: Yeah, so why do we need state parks?

Speaker 1: We could keep the parks but sell the naming rights. You could have the ExxonMobil/Will Rogers State Park.

Speaker 2: What about Doritos/Corona del Mar State Beach, where that councilman snapped about all the Mexicans taking over?

Speaker 4: Could we work Corona beer into it? Wait, I've got it! Taco Bell Mar.

Speaker 3: I still say education is ripe for cuts. Do we really need kindergarten?

I'd like to attribute this sort of behavior to the heat wave, but the truth is now plain as day. Democrats can't be trusted and Republicans can't get out of their own way.

Is it too late to put the entire Legislature on the recall ballot?

Unfortunately, yes. But it's not too late to load the cannons and send a warning shot across the bow of the good ship Sacramento.

As I said at the top, money is rolling into my campaign, at least to the extent that a single check can actually roll. It was for $50, and it was made out to "Lopez for Governor" by Jack McGrath of Valley Village.

Thanks, Jack. But I gave voters my guarantee that unlike all the carpetbagger candidates, this California native won't raise or spend a dime, and I won't participate in the coming two-month spectacle of mud-slinging.

To borrow a phrase from an ex-president, California's in deep doodoo, and it's time for a candidate who isn't afraid to reach in and get his hands dirty.

Vote for me, the father of a newborn. Sure, Rep. Darrell Issa is bragging all over the radio about cleaning up the "mess" in Sacramento. But does he change diapers?


Steve Lopez writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at

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