Diary of a Mad County

MONDAY, May 5: Mighty Ducks win . . . Bill Bennett doesn't. The holier-than-thou conservative land mass who has made millions telling people how they should live lost millions gambling—the Washington Post reports more than $8 million. He says his gambling is strictly his business, which is what conservative harpies—the crew that wants to tell you who to have sex with and how, what to watch and when—say when their gambling or beaver shots are discovered; they suddenly morph into libertarians. The criticism of Bennett, though, is misguided, centering too much on the concept of gambling rather than its specifics, which is: he lost the money playing the slots. My mother plays the slots. She does. Word is Bennett may sue the casinos for impairing his judgment by serving him a never-ending supply of Pink Ladies.

TUESDAY, May 6: Word is that the Republicans will soon announce a third effort to recall Governor Gray Davis, who they don't like because he's not a Republican. Is it just me or are Republicans not even pretending to be interested in democracy anymore? They spent millions in an attempted coup of Bill Clinton, used the Supreme Court to install the "President," started a war when his poll numbers fell, and now want to remove the elected governor of the largest state in the union. Who's up for slavery!? And this couldn't come at a worse time. The state, like virtually all others, is going through a massive budget crisis, and the thought of trying to muddle through that and a recall election and multiple campaigns to elect Davis' successor in case he's recalled is numbing. None of which concerns Republicans who lost—let's see, three, carry the two—everystate office last time out. So the only way they can win is to have chaos, confusion and a winner who gets fewer than a majority—the Bush Strategy. The only thing that remains to be seen is what jerk they'll get to front this thing.


May7: It's ISSA

WEDNESDAY, May 7: . . . And Issa is his Name-O! Since the Republicans' usual methods of usurping the electorate—Supreme Court, bunker busters and the state of Florida—won't work in California —yet—they turn to Darrell Issa, millionaire OC/San Diego congressman who announces today that he will bankroll the effort to kick out Davis. Issa's credentials as a millionaire congressman are impeccable in that he paid $1.5 million for the seat that represents parts of South County but mostly dried soil. He wasn't nearly as good at being a millionaire senator, spending about $10 million to get his ass kicked—in the primary—by Matt Fong. Matt who? Exactly. Issa not only wants Davis out, but he also wants his job. So what is Issa's legislative record? He doesn't appear to have one, unless you count the fact that he made all of his money off car alarms, a fact that should not only preclude him from public office but also require him to pay substantial reparations. Issa should take a lesson from Ms. Bennett and realize that those who throw million-dollar rocks are in line for a little scrutiny themselves. Like people might bring up how ironic it is that a guy who made money off car alarms was once indicted—never convicted—of stealing a red Maserati. And certain people might find it interesting that Issa increased the insurance coverage on a manufacturing plant just weeks before it was destroyed by an apparent arson fire. An investigation never figured out who caused the blaze. And if Issa thinks Davis lacks the backbone to be governor, then what are we to think of Representative Issa, who says he only voted for a congressional resolution to condemn Yasser Arafat after being pressured by Majority Whip Tom DeLay. This after Issa had dined with Arafat, watched TV with Arafat and, according to online columnist Debbie Schussel, called the Palestinian leader "charismatic." Yeah, Issa is a guy you can trust. Hey, if Issa can't stand up to DeLay's pressure, what's he gonna do when Phil "Avenging" Angelides brings it? . . . Local mom-and-pop misery stand Bryco Arms is told by an Oakland jury to pay a teen $50 million for its part in an accidental 1994 shooting that left the boy paralyzed. The jury believed the .38 caliber Saturday Night Special manufactured by Bryco was defective. It's not all that surprising to us that charges of lax control were leveled at Bryco. Several years ago, while writing about Saturday Night Specials, a Weekly reporter knocked on the door of Bryco's Costa Mesa office. No answer. The reporter drove around back, parked at the loading bay and walked inside—among hundreds of boxes of brand-new pistols. Guns, guns, guns—just sitting there for the taking. We're not saying the reporter lifted any pistols; we're just saying we're the best armed editorial staff in publishing this side of American Mercenary and Seventeen ("Make your Ammo look Whammo!").

THURSDAY, May 8: Supervisor Tom Wilson, who was just described to me as "having that Reagan goopy hair thing going on," announces he will run for the 73rd Assembly seat being vacated by Pat Bates, who is being termed out. Wilson was appointed by then-Governor Pete Wilson to the Board of Supervisors—well, actually he was appointed by the Irvine Co., but they had Governor Wilson make the actual announcement, you know, to make it seem legitimate. Supervisor Wilson repaid his debt by allowing developers to build unfettered, so much so that environmentalists dubbed a toxic pool in Aliso Viejo—the result of overbuilding runoff—"Lake Wilson." Wilson will run against Mimi Walters in the primary. Walters has just been described to me as "pretty much Tom Wilson minus the goop."

FRIDAY, May 9: Consumer Reportshits the stands with a customer-satisfaction survey of 14 major theme parks, and the locals don't do so good. Highest-ranked California park is San Diego's Sea World at sixth. Disneyland, which gets the lowest marks possible for overcrowding, comes in eighth. Knott's is 12th, and Disney's California Adventure—as if you didn't already know—dead last. . . . Everything is set for the American Life League's (ALL) weekend protest of the address to be given by Representatives Loretta and Linda Sanchezat a local Catholic college. ALL has included the sisters as part of "California's Deadly Dozen," a pro-choice group of Catholic politicians that includes Gray Davis and Representative Nancy Pelosi and requests that priests refrain from giving them communion. Judie Brown, ALL president, says the Sanchezes "pro-death policies" are "disgraceful." So it's interesting that ALL does not condemn the pro-death stand of pro-death-penalty politicians. "Abortion is intrinsically evil while the death penalty is not classified as such," said ALL spokesman Erik Whittington. "The Pope has said the death penalty can be allowed in certain situations." But Monsignor Lawrence Baird of the Diocese of Orange tells me the death penalty is seen as a "last resort," under "circumstances that hardly would ever exist," in the United States. Anti-abortion militant James Kopp apparently thought those last-resort circumstances existed when he imposed a death sentence on New York doctor Barnett Slepian, whom he shot in Slepian's kitchen. Kopp appears remorseful and says he wishes he "could get 10 death penalties" for his actions. But that's news to the FBI, which had to track down the Killer Christian hiding out in France. The pro-death Kopp gets 25-to-life.

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