In California, they’re casting for Total Recall |

In California, they’re casting for Total Recall

Guy W. Farmer

Back in the 1960s, Nevada’s civil defense director developed a plan to head off the California hordes at Donner Pass in the event of a nuclear attack. And today, as California’s recall circus gets more bizarre each day, perhaps we should dust off that old civil defense plan before it’s too late.

Now don’t get me wrong; some of my best friends — and even a few relatives — are Californians, but I think we should retain a healthy separation between our two states in order to avoid the complete and total Californication of Nevada.

After all, just look at how many Californians are moving to Nevada these days. Some of them are even running for public office and a few of them are winning as part of a vast conspiracy to turn the Silver State into East California. That’s why we should send the Nevada National Guard up to Donner Pass in the name of homeland defense.

Most Californians probably think the effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis is “poco serio” (not very serious). They’re right, of course, but the whole thing is worth the effort for its entertainment value. After all, where else can regular folks — aging actors, porn stars, retired cops, failed politicians, smut peddlers, used car salesmen, sumo wrestlers etc. etc. — run for governor and be taken seriously? It just proves that California is truly the Land of Opportunity.

It’s a place where a poor boy from Austria can become a famous movie star and where you can obtain a taxpayer-funded sex change operation, if you’re an employee of the city of San Francisco. In other words, anything and everything is possible. These folks are living the American Dream right next door.

But seriously, Gov. Davis is in such big trouble that I doubt whether that master politician, ex-President Bill Clinton, can save him. According to recent polls, about 60 percent of California voters favor the recall. That opens the door for front-running Arnold (aka “Ahhnold”) Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder turned movie star turned Republican politician. According to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, “The race will be between a governor (Davis) who became unpopular acting like a robot and an actor (Schwarzenegger) who became popular playing one.” Or, as a Republican political consultant put it, “This is a beauty contest, and Arnold is the best looking guy.” Only in California.

If I were advising Davis, I’d urge him to legalize all of the illegal immigrants in California before the Oct. 7 recall election, giving them free driver’s licenses and health care. Oh, excuse me, I just learned that the governor has already decided to do just that, along with making Spanish the state’s official language. Vota por Gray!

My problem with Ahhnold is that he’s overshadowing some of my favorite candidates. One example is Larry Flynt, CEO of the sleazy “Hustler” empire, who’s campaigning as “a smut peddler with a heart.” Now there’s a catchy slogan.

And then there’s former child star Gary Coleman, who doesn’t have a clue as to why he’s running for governor except that a radio station paid his filing fee. Actually, I think a Schwarzenegger-Coleman team would be just the ticket. Ahhnold could carry the cuddly little actor around in his jacket pocket and bring him out for comic relief when journalists’ questions turn serious.

I also like the retired police officer who wants to legalize ferrets as household pets and the stripper who wants to levy a huge tax on breast implants — a growth industry in California, if you get my drift.

And speaking of the issues, no one is. It’s all about celebrity, although the state faces a $38 billion budget deficit and is nearly bankrupt. Ahhnold has decided to fix the deficit by hiring billionaire investor Warren Buffett, a Democrat, as his economic policy adviser.

That move drove the state’s right-wing Republicans nuts since Schwarzenegger was already far too liberal for them. After all, he’s pro-choice and favors gay rights and gun control, and he’s married to toothy TV star Maria Shriver of the ubiquitous, and very liberal, Kennedy clan. The conservatives are backing wealthy businessman Bill Simon, who actually managed to lose to Davis last year.

In California, as in much of the rest of the country, the news is usually celebrity-driven. Just two weeks ago, it was all Kobe — Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who’s charged with sexual assault in Colorado — all the time. Now, however, it’s all Ahhnold, all the time. And of course the Austrian-American movie star is on the cover of both Time and Newsweek this week.

Forget about embassy bombings in Baghdad. It’s celebrity time in California. And just in case Arnold and/or Kobe fail to make news, we have Scott Peterson in reserve. He and his lawyers were in a Modesto courtroom on Thursday, explaining how Peterson’s wife Laci was murdered by a satanic cult. As I was saying, only in California. And by the way, what ever happened to that other lovable former child star, Robert Blake? Don’t worry, he’ll be back — just like Ahhnold.

Well, that’s how I see the entertaining recall circus in our neighboring state. With 135 candidates on the ballot (out of the 247 people who took out nominating papers), there’s something for everyone. And although kooks and nuts abound in La La Land, it looks like Gov. Davis will be removed from office and replaced by Schwarzenegger, the biggest celebrity of them all. Let’s call it Total Recall.

Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City.