Capitol Punishment

How Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped worrying and learned to love selling out to special interests

Shit. Now I have to rent a car and drive to Fresno.

* * *

I do not rent a car and drive to Fresno.

But I do contemplateit—all five hours' round trip. To Fresno. And just in case I ever rent that car and drive to Fresno, I decide to go to the governor's office and get my ass credentialed, something I might have thought about doing the first day if I wasn't already drunk. Like Brit-Brit and K-Fed, we is gonna make it official!

DidIhaveapresscredentialfromlawenforcement?Jennifer in the governor's press office wants to know. "We don't need them in Orange County," I reply, neglecting to mention I'd blown off my appointment with the sheriff's lady who was all ready to give me one some weeks ago.

I don't even carry business cards.

DoIcoverthegovernoronaregularbasis?

Oh, yes.

Atevents?

Um, sure.

Jen would call me; I needn't call her. Then, on Tuesdays and Thursdays between noon and 2 p.m., I could get my photo taken by the CHP in Room 1160.

Keith in the CHP office is terribly helpful, even though he can't actually help.

I await Jen's call at a reception for Al Franken on the DeltaKingon Sacramento's peaceful chocolate river, having walked a couple of miles in my business attire of mismatched separates and some non-sensible (okay: hookery) shoes. I do not bother trying to meet Al Franken, who is stomping bowlegged through the small reception, shrimp already traveling from hand to mouth, like a very small Godzilla. I do talk to a handsome young man named Adam, though, who, when I mention my dinner with Gil Cedillo, murmurs knowingly, "One Bill Gil."

"One Bill Gil"? He hashad other bills besides the illegal alien driver's licenses, you know. For instance? A bill that would keep the fuzz from impounding the cars of people whose only crime is that they don't have licenses! "One Bill Gil"? That smarts.

Jennifer never does call, that dirty bitch.

* * *

And it's back to Chops. This is when lovely Tammy, the bartendrix, tells me that a) she went to high school in Paducah, Kentucky, with Angels center fielder Steve Finley, and b) that the governor had been in here Monday night. At the same time I was.

Then the guy next to me, joining in the conversation, asks if I'd seen the governor's announcement that day.

"The governor made an announcement?" I ask.

Yes, he's going to fully fund Proposition 42, the law that says the gasoline tax must go to transportation projects. It was passed overwhelmingly in 2002, but first Gray Davis suspended it, grabbing $868 million (fiscal emergency) and then Schwarzenegger suspended it, diverting its $1.2 billion to other programs (fiscal emergency). So let's see what Schwarzenegger said this fine day: "The people voted to have [gas] tax money used for transportation. But the politicians, of course, had other ideas. They raided transportation funds to cover the deficits and their reckless spending. And our roads and infrastructure have suffered."

Yes. "The politicians." You tired? I'm tired.

My new friend pulls out a binder with all the relevant facts of the announcement Schwarzenegger had made at the League of California Cities luncheon.

"The governor was at the League of California Cities luncheon?" I ask.

I knew there was something I'd forgotten to do: like maybe ask the governor's office for his schedule.

I'm so fucking fired.

On the bright side: maybe they wouldn't have given it to me without a credential anyway! I'm pretty sure that's what I'll tell my boss.

* * *

I'm done with this town. My body is bloated from the vodka and ravaged by the waistband of my chic business attire of mismatched separates. Following a fruitless stint at the Hyatt, where the governor makes his home (I've tried but not succeeded to hang out long enough to let him get back from Fresno, as I'm falling into my drink), I'm back at the hotel, naked, in bed, when Juan calls. He wants me to get my ass dressed and come to Simon's, the Chinese restaurant of choice for politicos (well, after No. 1 Frank Fat's). He's hanging out with a bunch of staffers from Van Tran's office (R-Garden Grove). I don't wantto go to Simon's!

I go to Simon's.

There, I listen, in totally over my head, as the staffers discuss the good old days of some San Diego race. I couldn't begin to guess what they're talking about. But eventually the talk turns to gun control. I know about gun control!

I confuse the Second Amendment with the Fourth. What the hell is the Fourth anyway? Unreasonable search and seizure? In that case, what's the Third? It's 1 a.m., and we start calling everyone we know to find out. Unfortunately, there are no Libertarians nearby with their handy pocket Constitutions.

Still, I am a laughingstock. That very afternoon, when I'd run into former Assemblyman Tony Strickland at Chops, and he'd told me he's now the prez of the California chapter of Club for Growth? Yeah, then I'd been able to quote back to him some of national Club for Growth head Grover Norquist's greatest hits, like when he said that it was cool for the Republicans that more of the Greatest Generation was dying off each day, because they were all socialists who'd demanded the New Deal. Now, in addition to having called the governor's race for Tom McClintock, I don't even know the Second fucking Amendment, and the staffers have handed me my ass like the puppy owners handed Schwarzenegger his, when he tried to reduce the kill time at the state's pounds.

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