Capitol Idea!

Commie Girl in Sacramento

The tobacco lobbyist sent me a drink, but I rudely don't acknowledge it—because Cedillo has just arrived! His receptionist passed along my message! Cedillo orders a near-beer and tells me he is running unopposed for a state Senate seat that includes San Marino, an area so wealthy one isn't permitted to park on the streets. We laugh. The potstickers at Simon's are outstanding. If you run into the tobacco lobbyist, tell him I'm sorry.

The next day, as I sit with my coffee on an ugly promenade, a hip-looking young blonde approaches and hands me a pamphlet. It says "Pro-Choice; The Right to Privacy; Choice," etc. She seems to be the lone counterprotester to the Teens for Life. I open the pamphlet, and—aaaaaaiiieeeee!—another flattened, red-coated, smushed-face fetus in full bloody color!

I stride into the Capitol to meet with state Senator Ray Haynes (R-Riverside), who has promised to cure me of socialism. But a door opens off the hall, and a crowd of 20 or 30 people pours out like clowns from a Volkswagen. They are in jeans, leather and sunglasses. A small woman with curly blond hair is talking into a television camera, and I recognize her as groovy, loudmouth defense attorney Leslie Abramson. Then I spot apple-cheeked Beck. And Carole King! Her eyes are huge pools of violet-blue. She looks terrific. The people in the hall are rock stars there to lobby for a bill against the current state of recording-industry contracts. A couple of middle-aged women staffers, trying to make it through the blocked corridor, sniff amongst themselves. "Great place to hold a press conference," they say acidly, refusing to be impressed even though Don Henleyis now talking to the cameras. He is tanned, and his hair is very expensive. Feh. Don Henley.

I eventually make it through the crowd and to the bank of elevators, where there are scores of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members in purple T-shirts, there to lobby their legislators for something or other. There are no cameras on the SEIU folk.

Sadly, Senator Haynes is unable to cure me of socialism, even though he claims to have been a socialist once himself, in his wild college CalPIRGdays. He is a mild-mannered, bespectacled man who says things like, "We are close to a Democratic Socialist state here in California," while the Gipsy Kings play quietly from a CD he burned himself. I ask Haynes if he will be meeting with any of the rock stars in support of Senate Bill 1246. Yes, he says brightly. He and Senator Jim Brulte(R-Rancho Cucamonga) will be meeting with Christina Aguilera and Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks. First, though, he's going to Focus on the Family's lobby day.

On my last day in Sacramento, the Teens for Life are wrapping up their week, too. A cute rock-star-looking boy of perhaps 17 stands on the Capitol steps facing them, strumming a guitar and leading them in a song about abortion and God, with a stirring bit about "your majesty" that has nothing to do with purple mountains. It's a Bob Roberts moment, albeit a vaguely stirring one. Soon these kids will discover drugs and sex; the cute rock-star-boy undoubtedly already has. And the art of just hanging out.

As you read this, Rebecca Schoenkopf is visiting Mt. Rushmore where she is contemplating the glory of our warrior republic.
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