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California | POINTS WEST

I'm Not the Only Joke Candidate in the Recall

August 01, 2003|Steve Lopez

I might have said the recall would be no fun with Arnold Schwarzenegger backing out of a run for governor.

But now I take it back.

Hard to believe a muscle-head known as the Terminator appears to have been grounded by his wife, but the story is nonetheless taking on Wizard of Oz qualities:

Arnold's got no courage, you can take your pick of candidates with straw for brains, and Gov. Gray Davis might or might not have a heart, but is definitely missing a soul.

Waiting at the end of the yellow brick road, and playing a fabulous wizard, is U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She alone controls the destiny of every other candidate, and colleagues have asked her to save the great state of California and run for governor before Davis blows it for Democrats.

Too soon to know if Feinstein will jump in, but it's not too soon for Davis to begin unraveling at the mere prospect. The Tin Man has been telling everyone he's in charge and they'd better stand behind him, one and all.

Or else what?

I look for Davis to start speaking in bad Spanish and calling black folks "bro" as he steps up the pandering to save his neck. And could he and everyone else please stop congratulating themselves for passing a smoke-and-mirrors budget that solves none of the long-term problems and still leaves students south of the Santa Monica Freeway, among other places, wondering why they don't have enough schoolbooks?

Feinstein could also determine the fate of former L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan, who, by default, appears to be the best hope for the desperate GOP. Riordan recently told me he wouldn't run if Feinstein does, which is all the more reason for Feinstein to run.

So what'll it be, Dianne?

As the heavy hitters make up their minds, there's no shortage of future stars eagerly taking advantage of the state's brand of sun-dried democracy.

Larry Flynt has taken out papers, just in case there was anybody left in the nation who didn't think Californians should all be burned at the stake. And a billboard queen named Angelyne, whose car and dog are both pink, is primed and ready.

There's a guy named Bob Dole who wants in, and another one named Michael Jackson, but neither is the real deal. There must be a Dick Nixon out there somewhere, and at this point, you'd have to give him decent odds.

Mickey is also considering a run, but Minnie's not sure about the impact on the kids, and Goofy was going to give it a shot but realized he and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa would be fighting for the same votes.

My favorite potential candidates so far are the divorced Huffingtons, Arianna and Michael, who apparently think there aren't quite enough delusional millionaires in the race already.

And what about my candidacy, the great multitudes continue to ask?

I think it might be time for a confession.

My candidacy was actually a joke, I'm sorry to say, especially to those who sent money or volunteered to join the campaign.

It was a tongue-in-cheek form of commentary on how ridiculous the entire recall is -- a recall we wouldn't be having if not for a car alarm salesman shelling out $1.5 million to try to buy the governor's job.

But I'm taking a close look at this field of freaks, licensed blabbermouths and professional narcissists, and a realization has set in: I'm not nearly as bad a candidate as I thought I was.

Bill Simon is back for another try, for God's sake.

Believe it or not, I'm still the only candidate with a Spanish surname in a state that's almost half Latino.

I'm still one of the few, if not the only, California-grown candidates.

I'm not pink, I'm gray. But I'm no Davis.

So count me in.

Unless, of course, my wife says no.

Steve Lopez writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at steve.lopez@latimes.com.

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