As the candidates whore their way to the countdown, some final thoughts.
The voters of California have essentially four choices. Keep Gray Davis, or elect one of the three front-runners. And frankly, none of the choices look all that appealing. Nor does it seem likely that the result will make all that much difference in the way the state is governed, or put much of a dent in the deficit, or tighten the reins of the runaway special interests. Oh, there's a wee bit of a choice in which special interests will have the ear of the governor, but odds are excellent that the results will do little to solve California's massive financial problems, which have a lot more to do with a deeply-entrenched and thoroughly corrupt legislature than with the governor's office.
First, Gray Davis, who sucked the Enron teat for years. In fact, Good Ol' Gray sucked at about every special interest teat he could find, including the unions, the casinos, the energy companies, the developers, the illegal immigrants, and on and on. It probably won't save him. As titular head of the state, he's the fall guy for all the sins, even those he's not responsible for, and desperate taxpayers will almost certainly hand him his walking papers. Even the LA Times, his own private propaganda organ, can't save him now. He'll just have to learn to beat up his female office staff on his own dime now. (Notice how the Arnold accusations make headlines without confirmation, but the verified Davis assaults on women get almost no press at all.)
Then we have his Lt Guv, Good Ol' Cruz, as dishonest and corrupt as the day is long. With Tom and Arnold splitting the right side of the ticket, Cruz may well slip into a promotion. After all, he did get an extra $4 million from the Indian gaming lobby, and while he was supposed to hand it back he actually just shuffled it to a safer place to spend on electing himself. Same campaign people, different organization, call it "legal" and business as usual goes on. If Cruz gets the nod, it'll just be Davis redux with more slot machines and a boost in non-citizen voting. A victory for the Democrat party in California, perhaps, but not for California itself.
Then there's Arnold, who has been loudly proclaiming he's not taking any money from special interests. I guess it all depends on what you define a special interest as--Arnold has taken millions from big business and California real estate developers. Another big honking empty ego, complete with Good Ol' Boy money and GOP party handlers. There's probably some truth to the butt-grabbing allegations (he is after all a Hollywood boy now) but the large proportion of accusers with heavy state Dem party ties and the rather convenient timing argues more for trivial and contrived than substantive. The Nazi accusations are even flimsier, especially in light of Arnold's youthful propensity to hunt down and beat up neo-Nazis and skinheads, and his million-plus in donations to the Weisenthal Center. But hey, he DOES have an Austrian accent, just like Adolf....
Finally, there's Tommy-boy McClintock, whom many have hailed as the Great Conserative Hope of the election. And McClintock's record in the state legislature is certainly mainstream conservative. His staunch opposition to bankrupting the taxpayers in order to subsidize illegals has made him a darling of the right and brought the expected accusations of racism. But his record of campaign donations shows he's not discriminatory at all--he'll take money from anyone. Indian gaming, public unions, big business, developers--all have chipped in heavily to McClintock's coffers. Gray Davis Lite, with an Operation Rescue bumper sticker.
My favorite? Well, if I lived in California I'd have a tough time deciding between my perennial favorite, None of the Above, and Mary Carey the porn star candidate. After all, if you're gonna get screwed anyway, it might as well be by a professional, and you might as well enjoy it.