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This Election Was More Hollywood Than Sacramento

Times Staff Writer

You can take the governor out of Hollywood, but you evidently can’t take the Hollywood out of the governor.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s press relations operation seems to come straight out of the Hollywood playbook for movie premieres and star interviews.

During the run-up to the election on “Proposition 57" and its sequel, “Proposition 58,” Schwarzenegger finally agreed to a five-minute interview with Los Angeles TV station KTLA’s morning-show anchorman, says producer Ken Davis. (KTLA, like The Times, is owned by Tribune Co.)

Davis was told his anchorman would be rotated quickly through, along with eight other stations’ anchors -- just as it’s done for movie premiere publicity.

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Each anchor would have exactly five minutes, and just as they do it in Hollywood, the star -- the governor -- would answer questions only about the films -- in this case, Props. 57 and 58 -- nothing else.

The capper: Just as studios handle everything, it would be Schwarzenegger’s people -- not the news stations -- controlling everything: lights, audio, camera -- even taping the interview and then giving the interview tape to each TV station afterward.

Schwarzenegger’s people canceled, one day before the interviews.

The poll numbers for 57 and 58 were improving, thanks to a $9-million ad campaign, and Davis concluded that the governor had decided he didn’t need to answer questions about them.

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The election-night victory party in the ballroom of a Santa Monica hotel was also more Hollywood than politics. The twin video screens didn’t show updated TV reports and election results, as happens at most election-night events. Instead, they showed photos of Schwarzenegger campaigning. Reporters and politicians customarily mix at these events to swap insights; this time, the political press was kept penned up behind barricades along with the Hollywood press.

The next day, in Sacramento, 10 Schwarzenegger aides impatiently spent an hour on the Capitol lawn taping (and retaping) a “Top 10" list for the David Letterman late-night show of things Schwarzenegger’s staffers might say in the course of a typical day. No. 10, “When are you going to drop the phony accent?” and No. 1, “Governor, please put the desk down.” Your bond-borrowed tax dollars at work.

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O.C. Political Event Ends in a Singalong

Orange County’s election day variety show-luncheon -- the 15th annual, more or less -- attracted about 250 political junkies, defined as people who tape Jay Leno to see Gray Davis. Christine Diemer Iger’s event ended with the now-traditional group-sing of a new set of lyrics to the tune of “My Favorite Things,” from that movie set in Austria:

“Schwarzenegger, Rohrabacher, and there’s Rackauckas/Voters need Spell-Check to help end the ruckus/Touch-screen punch cards or pens, what will it be?/Should we stay home and just vote absentee?”

If you have to ask who they are, you won’t be getting an invitation. Tony Rackauckas is Orange County’s D.A. Dana Rohrabacher is the Huntington Beach Republican congressman who just clobbered former Rep. Bob Dornan, the Wild Man Behind the Orange Curtain. Dornan tried to get back into Congress by going through Rohrabacher and lost. Neither showed up at an election-night soiree in Newport Beach. Rohrabacher was still in D.C., and Dornan -- well, who knows?

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Urban Outfitters’ T-Shirt Flap

The last shirt to raise such a fuss was the one torn off Janet Jackson. A San Diego man’s “Voting is for Old People” T-shirt is irritating some politically minded sub-25s.

John Foster-Keddie’s shirt is marketed by Urban Outfitters, a company that’s already batted 1.000, or three strikes, depending. It sells “yout-" targeted urban clothes and appurtenances, and it’s marketed an “Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl” T-shirt, and a board-game sendup of Monopoly called Ghettopoly, whose properties ran to crack houses. The former was modified, the latter pulled off the shelves.

Foster-Keddie founded Vintage Vantage, selling funky disco-era finds like a Columbine High Class of 1977 T-shirt with a gun-toting Minuteman (price $1,977) and a Star Wars/Atari T-shirt for $320.

He also markets his own line of cotton-and-attitude shirts, like the “Besame” shirt, reading, in Spanish, “Kiss Me -- I’m Mexican.”

Conspiracy buzz suggests the geezer-vote shirt is meant to discourage under-25s from voting, on the presumption that their votes are more liberal than not. E-chatters point out that Urban Outfitters’ jefe, Richard Hayne, and his wife have given more than $25,000 to Republican causes over 10 years.

Foster-Keddie, Yale 2000, doesn’t get into that, but his website does mock Dan Glickman, the Clinton agriculture secretary who now heads an Ivy League policy institute.

Glickman wrote to Hayne protesting the shirt as “the wrong statement at the wrong time.”

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But then, Glickman is a Harvard man....

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Points Taken

* California sort of has its first Latino governor in modern times -- Xavier Lopez-Ayala, from the Montebello-Commerce area, governor of California’s YMCA model legislature. He prefers tax cuts to borrowing (are you listening, Gov. Schwarzenegger?) and says illegal immigration has become “an increasingly costly and potentially dangerous fact” and the state should work with the feds to “develop a more aggressive policy towards keeping our Mexican and Canadian borders closed” to illegal immigration.

* Rohrabacher (see above) has seen his anti-asteroid bill pass the House and head for the Senate. It names a $3,000 award for the late astronaut Pete Conrad and bestows it on amateur astronomers who find and track asteroids that could endanger Planet Earth.

* Nellie Connally, the widow of the former governor of Texas, who was riding in the jump-seat in Dallas in November 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, will be speaking at the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace on March 25 and signing her book, “From Love Field: Our Final Hours with President John F. Kennedy.”

* Kelly Hayes-Raitt gets named one of a dozen “Women of the Year” by the Los Angeles County Commission on Women today, and then flies to D.C. to brief members of Congress tomorrow on women in Iraq, where she journeyed twice last year.

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You Can Quote Me

“My daddy said I had to vote for it, so I am going to.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti’s droll reason for voting for a ban on political fundraising by city commissioners -- a ban recommended by the city ethics commission, whose members include Gil Garcetti, former L.A. County district attorney and the councilman’s father.

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DEJA VU

Everything old is new again, and, well, vice versa. A quarter-century after he first sat in Congress, left, Dan Lungren, who in the meantime has been California attorney general and the man Gray Davis defeated for governor in 1988, may be going back to Congress. Primary votes put Lungren ahead of state Sen. Rico Oller in the election to replace Sacramento-area Rep. Doug Ose. But lots of absentee and provisional ballots are uncounted, the secretary of state’s office says. The district is so heavily Republican that whoever wins the primary is almost certain to win in November, in an election with even less suspense than this year’s Best Picture Oscar competition.

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Patt Morrison’s columns appear Mondays and Tuesdays. Her e-mail address is patt.morrison@latimes.com . Her earlier columns can be read at www.latimes.com/morrison. This week’s contributors include Patrick McGreevy and Jean O. Pasco.


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