It’s all Greek

A simple plan: The first step in Richard Gregory’s four-step program to reduce greenhouse gases includes using hybrid mass transit vehicles like the Designline Olymbus.

London calling: The Englishman sitting at the bar in the Clarion was clearly pissed, and not just because he was two Tanqueray tonics into happy hour. At the written invitation of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’d come all the way from the United Kingdom to share his blueprint for reducing greenhouse gases with global warming’s latest and greatest poster child. Retired Royal Air Force pilot Richard Gregory, 85, even had the letter, signed by the big man himself, to prove it. He pointed a leathery finger at the penultimate passage, in which Arnold urged him to call “when your travel plans to the United States are confirmed so that we can arrange a time to meet.”

Which he did. Unfortunately, when Gregory arrived at the appointed time, Schwartzy already had jetted off to Vancouver, B.C., where he was appearing for yet another global warming photo-op. Sorry, an administration underling told Gregory, but there’s a “scheduling conflict.”

“Weasel words!” the wiry Brit fumed over his gin.

Gregory, who flew Spitfire fighter planes after World War II and later became a meteorologist, took an interest in global warming several years ago and has developed a four-point plan for reducing greenhouse gases. He submitted the plan to the British prime minister, the minister of transport, two members of Parliament and the mayor of London. No replies. So after seeing California’s governor on British TV, he sent the plan to him.

“He’s the only person who replied to me personally, and that impressed me immensely,” Gregory said. “Having that encouraging letter from the governor, I’m expected to report back [to tell friends and family how the meeting went]. So it’s a bit of a disappointment.”

Coffin corner: Meanwhile, on the TV above the bar, a reporter stood on a street in Rancho Cordova near where Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was soon expected for a fund raiser at the home of Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, daughter of multimegamillionaire developer Angelo K. “Teflon” Tsakopoulos. It seemed that all hell had broken loose after local anti-war activist Stephen Pearcy showed up with a sizeable contingent of protesters and his familiar soldier-in-the-coffin exhibit.

The rest is history. A Secret Service agent asked if he could look in the coffin; Pearcy declined. So the agent called the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, which was only too happy to dispatch the bomb squad along with a detachment of deputies in full riot gear. Serve and protect has taken on a whole new meaning, especially for well-healed one-percenters who can afford to drop $500 to $4,600 a plate for dinner with Hillary.

Pearcy had no trouble identifying with the one-percenters of Greek descent in attendance. He speaks the language somewhat, and his characterization of Clinton’s candidacy, which in Greek slang loosely translated to “sugar-coated shit,” drew snickers from more than a few passersby.

Usual suspects: The irony of the Secret Service’s intervention, Pearcy noted, was that it made the local anti-war demonstration one of the most successful in recent memory. The fund-raising event was delayed for three hours, and the demonstration was covered by all the local TV news channels, the Sacramento Bee and even stations as far south as La-La Land.

Not mentioned by any media outlet, of course, was the main reason Pearcy and his colleagues oppose Clinton: Her support for the war in Iraq and for Israel, which recently stepped up its brutal oppression of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this year, Clinton told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, that when it comes to curbing Iran’s nuclear-power program, nothing is off the table, including, presumably, the use of nuclear weapons. Yet the topic of our support for Israel and its relationship to turmoil in the Middle East remains taboo in mainstream media.

Englishman Gregory found this fact somewhat mystifying in the land that gave birth to the concept of free speech. The arrogance of America’s leaders, their irresponsible use of massive military force and Israel’s draconian treatment of its neighbors are frequent topics for debate in the United Kingdom. That they’re not here was preposterous to him.

“Shhhhh!” Bites cautioned. “Someone might hear you!”