Diary of a Mad County

Photo by Jessica CalkinsMONDAY, July 7 General lethargy and nausea, lingering effects of Independence Day—Aaron Burr was right: patriotism's a bitch—with nary a shred of sympathy from hard-hearted wife. Reduced over the weekend to crawling for a glass of water. Unfeeling wife, ungrateful children and inappropriately urinating dogs offer no relief. (In fact, dogs' inappropriate urination makes crawling for water an act of despoilment.) A word about drinking: Don't.

TUESDAY, July 8 It just never ends for Recall Monkey/Car Magnet Darrell "Hot Wire" Issa (R-Vice City). On CNBC's Capital Report, co-host Alan Murray asks Issa about his car-theft arrests, being pulled over by a Border Patrol agent for dangerous driving and an incident in which he reportedly pulled a gun on a co-worker. Issa's answers set a new standard for moral relativism:

Murray: Well, sure … but I mean … is it true?

Issa: No. It isn't true.

Murray: You were not arrested for car theft?

Issa: The truth is a relative term. Was I arrested? Yes. Was I cleared? Yes. Was it 30 years ago? Yes. The amazing thing though …

Murray: The gun charge? The, uh …

Issa: No. That's completely untrue …

Now I must tell the truth. Turns out that Issa, whom I've represented as representing parts of south Orange County, was redistricted out of that region a couple of years ago and instead represents those areas of rural San Diego where people live in bunkers, emerging only long enough to steal army tanks and go a-rampagin'. This is a bummer, of course, since sociopath congressmen with miles-long arrest records don't come around that often, not since Claire Booth Luce died, anyway. So I feel intensely blessed that the man now representing south OC is Kenneth "Are You a Cop?" Calvert (R-You Know, You'd Have to Tell if You Were), who has never been arrested for stealing a car but was arrested for being with a prostitute while sitting in one. Calvert, who first denied being with the hooker, later said the whole thing was "inevitable" since he had a lot of stress in his life. Yeah, most mental-health workers will tell you that prostitution is the key to emotional stability. (Charlie Sheen? A rock.) Interestingly, Calvert makes no mention of the arrest on his official website, though he does hint at his other life by admitting he is an "active member of the Resources Committee" and mentions his taste for a little "bipartisan" action.

WEDNESDAY, July 9 Today The Orange County Register reports that the total value of real estate in Orange County is $283.9 billion. You know what that means: we're rich! Share and share alike, am I right? Let's see, divide that number by, oh, who cares, let's go to Tiffany! Quick cut, and now I'm at Tiffany in South Coast Plaza. It turns out you didn't need the Reggie to tell you we're rich. All you had to do is look at the Tiffany counter, crammed with people who want to buy really expensive jewelry. One of the Tiffany people told me that even they've been surprised by the constant business, this being the middle of summer with nary a bogus gift-giving holiday in sight. But there they are, piled two and three deep at the counter the way kids attack an ice cream truck, except that these Sidewalk Sundaes go for $4,500 and the Bomb Pops require your left nut. Which I willingly hand over (see July 7, above).

THURSDAY, July 10 If Darrell Issa is Gray Davis' worst nightmare, then Dick Ackermanis like something sent from heaven—only extremely vindictive, angry and evil, you know, like Old Testament God. After weeks of simple obstructionist behavior regarding the budget, the Republican state senator based in Irvine takes the lead in the budget crisis and announces a Republican counterproposal so heartless, cruel and draconian that Draco, the ruthless Athenian politician for whom the term was coined, says "Daa-ahmn!" The anything-but-modest proposal would cut $615 million from K-12 education on top of the $219 million already proposed. Guess that means kids will have to settle for a quality community college educa … whoops, wait, Ackerman wants to cut community college funding by $782 million. In health care, Ackerman would cut $694 million from "optional benefits" for Medi-Cal recipients, such luxuries as hospice care and hearing aids. The proposal is breathtaking in its inhumanity and many believe it actually fuels Davis' argument that tax hikes are necessary, so much so that you wonder if that wasn't Ackerman's sly intent all along. Then he opens his mouth and you realize, no, he's just mean. Regarding health care, he says, "Instead of giving care to people, we have been giving them Cadillac care." Indeed, anyone who has looked at the American health-care system agrees that the problem is: it's too good! Under Ackerman, not only will old people be denied hospice care, but will be expected to share their ice floe with others. Now, as far as Cadillac care is concerned, Ackerman would know about that better than most since he not only receives big money from developers but, a couple of years ago, was given tickets to Lakers games by tobacco giant Philip Morris—but then, what concern does Philip Morris have in health care? Though Ackerman doesn't seem that enamored with young and old people, nor with the sick and uneducated, he does like him some big business. When he was running for the Assembly in 1995 he said that he was "already working with some chamber and business groups and asking them for wish lists." There's been no mention of similar offers made to nonmillionaires, especially sick ones, though one suspects Ackerman would be open to listening to any wishes regarding a Logan's Run/Soylent Green-like solution. You know, Soylent Greenis people; Dick Ackerman isn't.

FRIDAY, July 11 In an age of midgets, it's nice that some politicians are willing to think big. Another Orange County state senator, Ross Johnson, is one such man as he directs his attention to a county and its pee bottles. Seems some people, when on the freeways, pee into bottles and throw them out the window. This doesn't make them bad people, of course; maybe they just drank too much beer at the Angels game and got caught in traffic coming home on the 91—I told you to take the 57, didn't I, Tim!?—and things just catch up with them. Ross says of the practice, "I concede that this isn't a pleasant thing. The people who are doing this, using soda bottles as toilets, are obviously idiots. But the Caltransfolks are even bigger idiots. It defies common sense that you couldn't handle this with a pair of rubber gloves and some goggles. It bespeaks an arrogance in the use of taxpayers' money." Ross doesn't like that Caltrans calls out haz-mat teams to take care of the containers. Of course, Caltrans workers don't know if it's pee they're picking up or Mountain Dew; and on a hot day, your plastic bottles with hot pee can explode. Ross, I know you politicians are into hot cars, hookers and denying old people a dignified death, but have you ever picked up a plastic bottle of urine on a summer day and had it explode in your face? I imagine it's no more fun than crawling through it. So, I'm sending you this pair of Playtex rubber gloves and a pair of goggles with this simple note: "Piss off!" With you on the job, the haz-mat fellows can focus on collecting the corpses off the street. (Ooooh. That was a bit Ackermanian.)

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