Total Recall

In an effort to demonstrate he's more than just the slab-like face that launched a thousand action figures, Arnold Schwarzenegger finally held a press conference on August 20. Criticized for preferring celebrity schmooze-fests like The Tonight Show and Access Hollywood, where he can avoid giving substantial answers to important questions, this time he faced the assembled might of the working press, and in response to their questions announced categorically that he will (a) be the people's governor and (b) will make California's economy boom again.

He did not explain what (a) even means or how he will accomplish (b). In other words, it was The Tonight Show all over again, only this time there were unfunny opening monologues by Warren Buffet and George Shultz instead of Jay Leno.

Normally, a candidate with absolutely no experience in elective office makes an effort to demonstrate a mastery of the issues to reassure voters he has carefully thought out plans to fix what ails the state. Not Arnold. He cleverly took the opposite approach, refusing to discuss any issue in detail and assuring voters he currently has no plan to solve California's problems. Not only did Arnold refuse to name a single specific action he'd take as governor, he announced during the press conference that it is his firm and unalterable policy not to tell voters what he plans to do until after he is elected. He wouldn't name a single program he'd cut. He promised not to raise taxes—unless he has to. He did say he was in favor of reform—lots of reform—but refused to say just what that means. Arnold claims he can't say anything specific until after the state budget is audited by an independent accounting firm, and that will take 60 days.

It's a shame he can't remember the meeting he and other top Republicans had with Ken Lay of Enron during the height of the power crisis, otherwise he'd realize that the Arthur Anderson accounting firm can produce much faster results—in fact, if you give them the exact numbers you want in advance, Anderson could probably have it done in a week.

So, is there a word to describe the campaign of a man who says it would be irresponsible to tell voters what he'll do if elected? Fortunately, there is: outercourse. It's a very Arnold word, though he's not the one who uses in the BBC's new documentary, Arnold Schwarzenegger—Made in Britain. In the film, it's former child actress Gigi Goyette who talks about outercourse. Those familiar with Arnold's career will recognize Gigi's name: for years Schwarzenegger's PR people have strenuously denied Arnold had an affair with her. Until the BBC documentary, Gigi had always refused comment on her relationship with Arnold, but now she says she was his mistress for seven years. Actually, Gigi dislikes the word "mistress," preferring to describe herself as Arnold's "avenue of relaxation." Gigi claims she and Arnold did nothing improper—there was "no insertion," only outercourse. In the documentary, she describes a typical session of outercourse: "I could be standing on my head and getting head." But no insertion.

Now Arnold is counting on the voters of California being as pliable as Gigi, as he stands the political process on its head by insisting on being elected before he explains what he will do as governor. There was "no insertion" by Arnold into the issues at his press conference, and there's been no insertion since. Welcome to the politics of outercourse.

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