Two Shades of Green

Perhaps it's only logical that in a state which has a man still trading on his movie role as a killer cyborg from the future as governor, politics would grow closer to comic books. Or perhaps it isn't. Either way, it's California.

At last weekend's state GOP convention, the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci spotted TV's ex-Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno.

And guess what? [Ferrigno] says he's thinking about going into politics one day, too. "I have a feeling I'm going to get dragged into it," he said at a Friday dinner for statewide GOP candidates. "I would love to get involved in reforming California."

Going from an actor who delivered his lines awkwardly to an actor whose most famous role had no lines (if you'll recall, Ferrigno didn't talk as the Hulk-- he just growled while painted green) is probably a step backward, but it still seems a much better option than the last action hero some in CA GOP were eyeing as a potential candidate. Only eight months ago, a faction of disaffected conservatives were hoping to recruit Mel Gibson as a candidate for governor. Yep, Mel Gibson. "It was a good idea back in December," California Republican Assembly President Mike Spence, one of the main proponents of the plan, replied when recently asked about his Gibson-philia by Sacramento Bee reporter Kevin Yamamura.

Meanwhile, Batman has been spotted in Sacramento. The man behind the bat-mask this time is Kevin Baker of the California Nurses Association, who is dressing up in cowl and cape as part of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights' "Crashing the Dash for Cash". The Dash for Cash is the Foundation's name for the flurry of fundraisers during the last days of state legislature's session, and it wants to highlight this year's dash in order to promote Proposition 89.

Prop 89 is, to use the Bee columnist Peter Schrag's description,

the California Nurses Association's "clean money" initiative, which would provide public funding to all qualifying state political candidates who agree to tight contribution and spending limits... It would put much stricter limits on contributions to privately funded candidates, to ballot measures controlled by candidates and officeholders and on corporate contributions to any ballot measure.

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Schrag, who after thoughtful analysis concludes Prop 89 is "hobbled by its own clumsiness, ambiguities and excessive ambitions", notes that " Getting voter support for public funding for political campaigns is hard under the best of circumstances." And that's where Batman comes in.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights has been dispatching video crews to these end of the session political fundraisers-- not all with a superhero in tow-- in hopes of stirring public disgust with the Sacramento money-go-round via You Tube. You can see all the videos at the Channel 89 homepage. You can also sign up there for a contest to see who can crash the most fundraisers; the winner receives Sacramento Kings tickets. You don't need to dress up like a superhero to participate, though if you do, the Hulk wouldn't be such a bad choice. After all, we know how much politicians like the color green.

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