Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Feb. 23 Amid all the hand wringing and spleen venting regarding painful cuts in education and human services in the Bush budget, it's easy to overlook one of the cruelest cuts and what it will mean to disgraced former presidents, currently dead. No, not RonaldReagan.We're talking about local-boy-made-shamed RichardNixon,whose library finally, finally, after years of trying, got the federal government to release the former president's papers to his Yorba Linda library/country fixin's buffet. The cost of moving the papers is estimated at $3 million—which sounds like they're getting ripped off by U-Haul—butthe new Bush budget doesn't allow any money for the move. What's more, the Nixon Library—whose operators always crow about being privately built and funded and not reliant on the taxpayers—had been hoping for another $4 million from taxpayers to build an addition to house the papers. Still, CongressmanGaryMiller,who represents Yorba Linda, says he expects he can get the money, which is amazing since Miller also is one of 23 co-sponsors of a bill calling for the end of the federal income tax. As for the papers, if things don't change, they won't have any chance of moving until 2007 and will remain back East, just waiting for someone to uncover new and exciting ways Nixon defamed the Jewsand/or SammyDavisJr.

Thursday, Feb. 24 Rookie Assemblyman Chuck DeVoreintroduces a bill to end conjugal visits for violent felons in the aptly named California State Penal System. The Republican represents an area that includes Irvine, Newport Beach and Laguna Woods, and if there's one hot-button issue at LeisureWorld,it's prison sex—that and being dead for an extended amount of time among pet cats who haven't been fed. Not only isn't this something DeVore's constituency cares about, but it's also already pretty well-handled. The state prison system prohibits inmates convicted of violence against a minor or a family member from getting conjugal visits, and as for other violent criminals, conjugal visits are highly restricted and available only to those who are part of a rehabilitation program. But that doesn't seem to satisfy the insatiable DeVore. "Most Californians believe it's inappropriate for violent convicts to enjoy overnight visits that may result in a pregnancy," he reportedly says. Speaking as someone who, in my younger days, spent a couple of nights I thought might lead to pregnancy, I agree wholeheartedly. But DeVore also said the "primary purpose of prison is punishment." That's news to most of us since we've always been told the primary purpose of prison is to rehabilitate criminals back into useful cogs in society. Perhaps DeVore believes he is in the TexasLegislature,which believes the primary purpose of prison is punishment, especially when the mentallyretardedare involved.

Friday, Feb. 25 Henry Samueli,Broadcom co-founder, chairman of the board and chief technical officer, and his wife, Susan,buy the MightyDucksof Anaheim hockey team for an amount estimated anywhere from $50 million to $70 million. It is believed to be the highest price ever paid for something that doesn't exist. Still, Samueli gushes, "The Mighty Ducks have become a wonderful asset to this community, with a terrific following, a history of winning, and a strong nucleus of outstanding young prospects and talented veterans," though he fails to add, "that don't exist." Now, you probably didn't notice, but the NHL recently became the first North American professional-sports league to cancel an entire season due to labor strife. With no solution in sight, some have suggested the NHL will play with replacement players next season—what some have called the Mighty Ducks 2003-04 team-roster solution—while others say the entire league is in danger of imploding. Samueli said the most important thing to him was that the sale ensured "the Mighty Ducks will remain in the hands of local ownership." Was this an issue? Disney was trying to sell the team for six years and couldn't get anybody's hands, local or otherwise, to take it off of theirs. The Samuelis are reportedly interested in purchasing other nonexistent properties such as the Los Angeles Rams, the Lakers' playoff hopes and GeorgeW.Bush'ssense of shame.

Saturday, Feb. 26 As much as crime-fighting Assemblyman Chuck DeVore would like to be the first person you think of when you think of prison sex—watch out, GregHaidl—todaywe think of him in relation to some other dirty words: conflict of interest. DeVore has proposed legislation to allow the residents of ElMorroVillagemobile-home park to remain in Crystal Cove for another 30 years at the expense of opening up the PUBLICbeach to the PUBLIC.DeVore's stand has pissed off groups as disparate as environmentalists and taxpayers; in fact, just a couple of weeks ago, the OrangeCountyTaxpayersAssociationurged county legislators to defeat DeVore's bills, calling El Morro residents "taxpayer-subsidized squatters on some of the finest public-beach property in the world." Of course, there are squatters, and then there are squatters with political connections. And these squatters gave about $74,000 to DeVore's campaign. Most of that came from the family of El Morro Village Inc. shareholder RobertoBrutocao.Interested in finding out more about this questionable arrangement? You may want to direct your questions to DeVore's finance chairman, RobertoBrutocao.Prison and politics make strange bedfellows . . . dudes, get a trailer.

Sunday, Feb. 27 Pope John Paul II,the target of almost daily attempts on his life by the Almighty,appears at a Vatican prayer service, fearlessly taunting the God who has attempted to take him out with a series of ailments that would kill a lesser pontiff. But this is a pope who stared down women's-rights groups, assassin's bullets, and such communist thugs as the Soviet Union and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I mean, c'mon, God, is that all you got?! Due to the pope's continued bad health, there has been some talk about him stepping down to allow a younger man—in this group, that means someone born after the Crimean War—to take over. Speculation on the Pope's successor is so intense that Betonline.com is now offering odds on who will succeed him; current favorites being Cardinals AngeloSodanoand GiovanniBatista,though I like the senior leadership and perimeter shooting of Gonzaga.I certainly wouldn't endorse betting on the death of the pope, and I certainly wouldn't endorse doing it with Betonline.com, which provides questionable information such as claiming that the Pope is the "frail religious leader of a reported 100 million Catholics." A hundred million Catholics? Where? Santa Ana? Betonline was off by a mere ONE BILLION, there being an estimated 1.1 billion papists worldwide, which is why Friday is Filet O' Fish Day at McDonald's.

Monday, Feb. 28 ". . . and, Mr.Lowery,you weren't diagnosed with this as a child? Really?"

Tuesday, March 1 Things you hear through doors left slightly ajar: "I don't ever, EVER,want to see you touch the dog like that again!" Expect swift legislative action by Chuck DeVore.



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