Diary of a Mad County

SATURDAY, Nov. 9 Writing in Canada's National Post today, Matt Welch of the LA Examiner website (www.laexaminer.com) warns Washington pundits against dimming California Governor Gray Davis' presidential prospects so fast. Yes, he is bland, his supporters call him "distinctly loathsome," and he just limped to victory against an opponent who waged the worst campaign in history. But Davis remains in charge of the largest state economy, his fund-raising prowess has earned him the nicknames "Cash Register" and "Pay for Play Gray," and he's a decorated Vietnam War veteran who just loves killing convicts. As Welch notes, "There is some precedent for a despised Californian politician surviving the political wars to emerge as an unlikely candidate for president." Orange County favorite son Dick Nixon, come on down! We just wonder which distinctly loathsome sombitch will be Gray's Spiro Agnew.

SUNDAY, Nov. 10 Police arrest a 32-year-old Long Beach man they believe to be the Belmont Shores Rapist, a serial attacker who has struck 31 times in Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos and Seattle since 1996. Mark Wayne Rathburn is later charged with 64 felonies in connection with 14 attacks where prosecutors claim to have DNA evidence linking him to the crimes. He's held in lieu of $11 million bail. Is he guilty? Hell if we know. But taking a gander at the booking photo, even civil libertarians like us can't help but think he must be guilty of something—Operating in Serious Need of a Makeover at the very least. Indeed, his is the first in a trifecta of gruesome mugshots getting heavy media rotation this week. The second is six-year-old Julian Hernandez, also of Long Beach, moments after she's plucked out of a locked coin-op washing machine. Ironically, it is not a Jackass stunt. The third—and way, way, way creepiest—is Michael Jackson sans the face mask. Yee-ikes! Jacko looks like a melted LaToya candle.

MONDAY, Nov. 11 With Republicans controlling Congress, Representative Chris Cox (R-Newport Beach) dances on the grave of the estate tax, telling his hometown House organ the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, "You can count on enactment of permanent death tax repeal during the first six months of 2003 and probably in the first quarter." Does this guy know how to party or what? Of course, the only thing that would make Cox's and the Pilot's nouveau riche constituents and their yacht brokers wetter would be repeal of the capital-gains tax. But it turns out that not all filthy-rich Republicans want to kill the so-called death tax. "From a selfish point of view, it would be very appealing to have no inheritance tax," David Rockefeller—the grandson of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller, who used since-closed loopholes to shield his wealth—tells the San Diego Union-Tribune. "But as a source of government income, it is a fairly efficient, fairly cheap way of collecting taxes. There is a justification for a moderate level of inheritance tax." That blows a gasket in Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham(R-Escondido), who ranks somewhere between Bob Dornan and Dana Rohrabacheron the Reactionary Right-Wing Nutcicle Meter. Duke calls Rockefeller a "socialist" and charges that backers of the estate tax "take their message straight out of the Communist Manifesto. Karl Marx knew that if you weren't going to have a revolution, the way to gain power was to take away the property of the people who were making money." Yep, David Rockefeller's turning market shares into swords.

TUESDAY, Nov. 12 Heads explode in Little Saigon over reports that a former general and vice president of the Republic of South Vietnam is going back to Vietnam—and not to topple the Commie regime! Orange County-based General Nguyen Cao Kyapparently revealed to Asia Inc. that he's returning to his homeland with Vietnamese-American investors at the invitation of Hanoi. The magazine claims many local Vietnamese are heading back to take advantage of economic opportunities. But when Cali Today rings up the general, he denies being Vietnam-bound. "My feeling is the general is backtracking for fear of repercussions," Nam Nguyen, Cali Today's publisher, reportedly says. If so, he probably ought to make that a one-way ticket.

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 13 Some people may just like it better in jail. Take David White. Two days ago, the 36-year-old Tennessean allegedly told Newport Beach Police that the car he was in was stolen from a friend in Louisiana. Behind bars he went. But White is released today because no charges had been filed. (The dreaded 48-hour rule we know so well from Dragnet.) So White sashays into the Harbor Justice Center parking lot, where he allegedly whips out a knife, opens a car door, orders the occupant out, and drives off in the vehicle. Cops spot the car a couple of hours later and bust White as he opens the door—the knife allegedly on his person. Now he's back in jail, and officers hope that this time, he will be charged with the Louisiana theft and the Newport carjacking. If he isn't, a word of advice: don't give him back the knife.

THURSDAY, Nov. 14 UC Irvine studentssplay their earnest bodies across a campus walkway to simulate the dead from the upcoming war with Iraq. Weekly theater critic Joel Beers is not there to review the spectacle, but we'll go out on a limb and nominate this as the best college production for our next theater awards. Fellow coeds pass through the faux carnage without batting so much as an eyelash—although those who are unaware this is a simulation are no doubt pleased over how many parking spaces this should open up.

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