A cheer for Oregon Gov. Victor G. Atiyeh. He had the good sense not to participate in the foolishness that occurred in Portland on Thursday, when Oregon started its state lottery.
As did Gov. George Deukmejian here, Atiyeh had opposed the ballot initiative last November. As in California, the Oregon lottery was heavily bankrolled by national lottery suppliers, and it passed.
A spokesman for Atiyeh said that the governor passed up an invitation to participate in the lottery kickoff because it would have detracted from the credibility of the affair, in view of his continued opposition to the lottery. Even so, the lottery inauguration was a bit incredible. It featured an 84-foot-tall inflatable King Kong holding an oversize instant lottery ticket, a gorilla roar from the sound track of a Godzilla movie and a lottery director who called out: "Let the games begin!" People then scrambled to collect some of the 5,000 balloons sent aloft containing free lottery tickets.
It is just a symptom of the tawdry carnival atmosphere that Californians are certain to suffer when California's lottery starts. Once the early interest in buying chances wanes, and it inevitably will, the lottery operators most likely will pump millions into an advertising campaign to goad more and more Californians to buy tickets. That has been the record in every other state. There is no reason to believe that it will be any different in California.