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Governor's Race Needs Bada-Bing

October 08, 2002|BILL KELLEY | Bill Kelley, a former New Jersey resident, is a writer for "MadTV."

According to the polls, there isn't much interest in California's race for governor, and it's unlikely that anyone who stayed awake during Monday's debate changed his mind--unless it was to move out of state, abstain from voting or write in the name of the "American Idol" winner. It seems that Gray Davis came out on top in the debate and will probably win the election--because, well, someone has to.

The absolute lack of excitement, however, is indicative of a bigger problem with California politics: Its scandals are boring.

Sure, our governor has questionable judgment when it comes to fund-raisers, and his opponent's business practices have an Enron-like quality to them.

But in a state where billions are spent annually on producing entertainment, Californians certainly don't know how to hold an election.

Fortunately, there's a simple answer. Just as Hollywood turned to New Jersey for inspiration with "The Sopranos," California may benefit from looking to the Garden State for guidance on campaigns.

Take, for example, Jersey's current senatorial campaign.

Democrats forced Sen. Robert Torricelli, the incumbent, to withdraw because voters had trouble seeing beyond the fact that a former campaign contributor gave the senator gifts.

Among them were a wide-screen television and cuff links--which don't sound so much like bribes as they do consolation prizes.

Torricelli also received a Rolex from the contributor and allegedly had him pick up the tab for 10 custom-made suits.

It's hard to imagine either Davis or Bill Simon getting involved in anything that sleazy--or interesting.

In fact, it's hard to imagine that Davis has 10 suits; if he does, they're off the rack.

I'm also pretty confident that Simon already owns a wide-screen television, on which he views "Lou Dobbs Moneyline" and just about anything on Nick at Nite. Except, of course, the "Bewitched" episodes with the gay husband--or at least that's what he tells his ultraconservative supporters.

As for the cuff links, my guess is that Davis has one pair, the ones he got for his wedding, and Simon has plenty from the family but usually wears the pair he bought at the gift shop at the Richard Nixon Library.

When it comes to watches, Davis looks more like a Casio man, and Simon has probably misplaced more Rolexes in his houses than he's bought.

Of course, once Torricelli was out, Democrats had to find a replacement. The job went to Torricelli archenemy and former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who, if elected, will be 84 years old at the end of his term.

Republicans challenged the substitution, but the New Jersey Supreme Court in effect told the GOP to "fuggedaboutit." It turned out to be a bigger story that day in California than anything our own candidates were doing.

California and New Jersey, of course, are not the same. For one thing, you can still use the beaches in New Jersey.

But given this current campaign, it might be worth it the next time you see Gray Davis to whisper to him, "Hey guv, wanna Rolex?"

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