Wigging Out Over Governor’s ‘Girlie Men’ Remark

Share via
Times Staff Writer

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s description of his opponents in the Legislature as “girlie men” roiled Democrats and feminists in Sacramento. But it’s been great for political satirists, and possibly even for Democratic fundraisers.

Within days of the governor’s comments at the Ontario Mills mall, where he also called lawmakers “children” and urged a crowd to “terminate” them, girlie men were popping up all over the Internet.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. July 31, 2004 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday July 31, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
Council candidate’s job -- The Inside Politics column in Monday’s California section described Los Angeles City Council candidate Bill Rosendahl as an executive at Adelphia Communications Corp. He no longer holds such a position. He is a visiting professor at Cal State Dominguez Hills, teaching about media and politics.

One site, www.freakingnews .com, even sponsored a contest. The rules were simple: “We also think there are ‘girlie men’ in both parties. So photoshop your favorite politician (Democrat, Republican, independent, etc.) as a ‘girlie man.’ International politicians are included!”


The site now hosts about 30 digitally altered photos. And, oh, how beautiful they look. There is presumed Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a plastic purple flower tucked behind his ear, making a lovely complement to his bright red lipstick and yellow sundress. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, meanwhile, is fetching indeed with a crown, glittery gown and a mane of honey-blond hair.

President Bush looks like your fourth-grade teacher, with a sensible suit, gold hoop earrings and an annoyed expression, as though students had been giggling in the back of the class just a bit too much.

Smile When You Say ‘Girlie Men’

Speaking of etiquette, the famously profane Senate President Pro Tem John Burton had some pointers for Schwarzenegger.

A week ago, Burton compared the governor’s carrot-and-stick approach -- charming Democrats when he is in Sacramento and attacking them when he is on the road -- to saying, “Hey, let’s go out and have a cup of coffee, you scumbag.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” Burton said.

Or maybe it does.

“You do that all the time,” someone told Burton.

Burton was quick with a response. “I know that,” he said. “I do it with a smile. I do it face to face. I don’t do it in front of a bunch of screaming, you know, Romans watching the Christians get thrown to the lions.”

Flexing the Political Muscles

Schwarzenegger’s remarks prompted anxiety at Los Angeles City Hall, where Councilman Eric Garcetti worried that local officials might be too “girlie” to negotiate with the governor over the budget.


“Are any of those people girlie boys?” Garcetti demanded of City Administrative Officer Bill Fujioka about the team of local government officials -- including Mayor James K. Hahn and City Council President Alex Padilla -- lobbying Sacramento for more money for municipal coffers.

Fujioka responded by flexing his biceps, which seemed to satisfy council members.

Democrats Stand to Turn a Profit

Perhaps worried that Schwarzenegger would carry out his threat -- issued the same day he called legislators “girlie men” -- to raise millions of dollars to defeat Democrats at the ballot box, some enterprising folks also set out to exploit the remark to make money for Democrats.

A website called began offering T-shirts that proudly describe their wearers as “Sacra- mento Girlie Men.”

Entrepreneur Sarah Lefton promised that 20% of the proceeds would benefit the California Democratic Party, “which, as you may have noticed, could use the help,” according to her website.

Requests for the $24 shirts came pouring in, Lefton said, including many from offices near the Capitol.

“This is my little contribution to what I call the trivialization of American politics,” Lefton said.


City Hall Insider Drafted by Dodgers

The Dodgers plan to name a lobbyist who knows a lot about land development to a top job, raising a few eyebrows.

Veteran City Hall insider Howard Sunkin, a senior lobbyist with Cerrell Associates, will soon become a Dodger senior vice president, the baseball team is expected to announce today.

Cerrell Associates has been working with Dodger owners Frank and Jamie McCourt since the couple bought the team earlier this year.

But it’s Sunkin’s experience with developers in Los Angeles that set off speculation in political circles last week.

Since buying the Dodgers, the McCourts have been fending off rumors that they want to move the team downtown and build housing or something else in Chavez Ravine.

Garcetti Makes Like a Political Reporter

Eric Garcetti took a stab at journalism a while back, and is turning it into a freelance job.


In May, the city councilman got a gig as a guest blog diarist for the online magazine Slate and wrote about changing clothes in his car as he sped from event to event.

“I hope no one will glance over from their car and suddenly see their councilman in his underpants,” he wrote.

Garcetti, who also wrote about cleaning up graffiti and helping his constituents, so enjoyed the journalism experience that, while he is at the Democratic National Convention in Boston this week, he plans to cover it for the weekly Hollywood Independent, his hometown paper.

He says he won’t write about his underwear this time.

But he will have plenty to chronicle even if he sticks to news with a local angle.

Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa and Mayor James K. Hahn both are slated to speak at the convention. And at least eight other City Council members plan to attend, prompting the council to cancel its meetings this week.

11th District Council Seat Drawing Crowd

The race is on for the 11th Council District seat being vacated next March by Cindy Miscikowski.

Flora Krisilof, a family nurse practitioner who served on the Westside Area Planning Commission, announced this month that she has raised $154,000.


Not to be outdone, Adelphia Communications executive Bill Rosendahl put out a news release two days later saying he had raised more than $153,000.

Attorney Angela Reddock, who serves on the city’s Transportation Commission and the state board of Barbering and Cosmetology, plans to hit the $150,000 mark this fall.

You Can Quote Me

“The practice of claiming compensation or credit for work that was never performed is unethical and weakens the public’s trust in the public relations profession and individual practitioners. Additionally, such practices may be in violation of contractual obligations and may even be found to be illegal.”

-- From a note the Board of Ethics and Professional Standards of the Public Relations Society of America sent to members a few days after PR giant Fleishman-Hillard placed the longtime head of its Los Angeles office on paid leave amid allegations that the firm intentionally overbilled the city’s Department of Water and Power.

Contributing this week was Times staff writer Evan Halper.