The thrill of victory and …

The agony of defeat: Sacramento’s second-most trusted news source, California Journal, named Darrell Steinberg “Assemblyman of the Year” not too long ago, bestowing a Minnie award on the termed-out Democrat.

And Sacramento’s most trusted news source, the News & Review, last week honored Steinberg in the Best of Sacramento issue, calling him the “Best reason to toss out term limits.”

But the glory didn’t last long. The same day SN&R hit the news racks, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gave Steinberg a fine going-away present on the last day to take action on bills: four vetoes.

Of course, Bites is certain that Arnie picked up a copy of the issue while power-walking to work, read about Steinberg’s coveted award, crumpled the publication in his meaty Teutonic hands, vowed revenge, and lunged for his veto pen as soon as he got to the office.

Steinberg finished his career in the lower house at a respectable 16-8 against the guv’s pen this year, and he kept his sense of humor after getting half those vetoes at the same time.

“For years, they’ve talked about the Sports Illustrated jinx,” he said. “You’re on the cover, next thing you know, you throw three interceptions. I guess Sports Illustrated can now discard that mantle, and we have to ask the question: does the jinx now belong to the News & Review?”

No way to say for sure, but Bites will be watching Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy, who SN&R honored as Best Orator.

Headline of the week: “Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate Sleeps with the Homeless and Migrant Workers in California.”

No, Karl Rove hasn’t been leaking more secrets, as easy as it may be to imagine him passing a sweat-stained package of grainy photographs to Robert Novak in some subterranean parking lot.

The story actually was being foisted by the Green Party’s own people, as vice presidential candidate Patricia “Pat” LaMarche swung through the Golden State. “LaMarche is in the middle of a two week, fourteen city tour across America, sleeping in homeless shelters and on the streets to draw attention to those living on the edge of society,” writes LaMarche’s publicist, Marnie “Mar” Glickman.

LaMarche spent last Wednesday sleeping with migrant workers in Sonoma County and, on Thursday, joined the homeless at Los Angeles’ Dome Village. But the previous weekend’s appearance may have been the most disturbing.

“On Saturday, before I went to sleep on the street across from Vice President Cheney’s house, I saw construction workers building an eight story underground bunker for him,” claims LaMarche. “If we took the millions of dollars appropriated for the bunker and spent it for housing, we could build homes for thousands instead of a place for that coward to hide.”

California uber alleys: Ironically, on the very same night that LaMarche was sleeping around near Dick Cheney’s residence, Bites was awakened from slumber by the dulcet tones of a local constable rousting a homeless woman who’d been sleeping in the alley beneath Bites’ Midtown window.

What started off as a strangely repetitive encounter—“Ma’am, do you live here?” “Don’t be getting in my business.” “Ma’am do you live here?” etc.—gradually evolved into an odd kind of dialogue. As the conversation progressed, Bites soon learned that the homeless woman is afraid of heights, the officer is afraid of dogs, and having people sleep in your alley is a lot less annoying than having them standing out there babbling.

So, imagine the delight when, a week later, Bites returned home to find the homeless woman had been replaced by the decked-out denizens of a white stretch limo, which had disgorged its contents into the very same alley so that they could wretch and void where prohibited. “Don’t worry, friend, we’ll be out of here in just a few minutes,” said one junior achiever, as his friends and their dates stumbled out of the alley in various stages of disarray.

Somehow, having one poor person sleep in your alley seems less problematic than a herd of yuppies using it as their own public restroom. But then again, Bites has never really understood the rules of entitlement.