Close enough

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a moderate Republican, which means he could just as well be a moderate Democrat. He’s married to a member of the most prominent Democratic family in the nation. He is pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-medical marijuana. But there is an “R” after his name on the ballot rather than a “D.” And that, apparently, is good enough for local conservative Republicans such as Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R Richvale. You’d think conservatives like LaMalfa would back candidate Tom McClintock, the Republican state senator from Thousand Oaks. This week LaMalfa allowed that he is indeed a “McClintock type of guy,” but he has endorsed the Austrian movie actor. “Have you ever seen anybody come close to generating so much excitement?” LaMalfa asked in defending his support of Schwarzenegger. (A few weeks ago, LaMalfa’s chief of staff, David Reade, took a leave absence to hop aboard the Schwarzenegger bandwagon and work as a consultant. Just a year ago, Reade worked on McClintock’s failed run for state controller.) LaMalfa said the state Legislature does not usually address such issues as abortion, gun control and medical marijuana. (I’m not so sure that’s true.) But on economic matters, “Arnold is taking the right path in making government more responsible with spending.”

Like a true conservative, LaMalfa believes in the laissez-faire approach to government. “If we would take some of the shackles off the people who produce, we would create an atmosphere where people have confidence and business would come, expand or stay here. We need to back off and let [the economy] grow and do its thing.” And it never hurts to back a winner—Schwarzenegger is well ahead of McClintock in the latest polls. Over at Assemblyman Rick Keene’s office, Keene field rep Steve Thompson told me that, while Keene supports the recall, he is not endorsing any of the candidates. Thompson said his office is getting a lot of calls from local Republicans saying they support McClintock and others saying they will “hold their noses and vote for Arnold.” I notice that somebody local is supporting McClintock. His sign is hanging on a number of cyclone fences around town. As for Schwarzenegger, a few weeks ago I knocked his thick accent—Gray Davis did too, just last week. My mention of Schwarzenegger’s poor enunciation angered a man in Durham so much he e-mailed me this message: “I think when your Austrian is perfect, then you may be qualified to critcize [sic] Arnold’s English.” OK, but seeing as how there is no such thing as an Austrian language—Austrians speak German—that’s a difficult challenge. It’s like telling me to learn to speak Durham.

Speaking of Keene, the freshman assemblyman had his first legislation signed into law by the governor last week. AB 1641 gives the state chief justice additional flexibility for allowing extended court deadlines when the courts are faced with “war, insurrection, pestilence, or other public calamity.” Keene said the bill is needed in the wake of Sept. 11 and allows days when the courts are closed due to calamity to be treated as holidays for purposes of meeting filing deadlines. Not all legislation is sexy.

Looks like President Bush is finally tackling the soaring unemployment problem in this country. Those currently out of work now have the opportunity to fill the jobs left behind by the reservist and National Guard soldiers fighting in Iraq because many of them just had their deployments extended by Bush. Gotta fill those open jobs.

Money, guns and lawyers. Warren Zevon, the talented and darkly humorous songwriter who penned, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” can finally get some well-deserved shut-eye. Zevon died of lung cancer over the weekend. He told friend David Letterman that not going to see a doctor for 20 years proved to be a “tactical error.” Zevon was 56.