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Here's where talking points add up

A sporadic chronicle of California's bid to become the most politically

August 12, 2003|Roy Rivenburg | Times Staff Writer

Finally, a candidate debate that won't put everyone to sleep. On Oct. 1, five of California's top gubernatorial hopefuls will match wits on "Who Wants to Be Governor of California? The Debating Game."

The one-hour special will air on the Game Show Network and will feature candidates choosing questions from various categories ("I'll take 'The Death Penalty' for 20 points") and racing through an obstacle course that might include a swarm of lobbyists carrying briefcases stuffed with bills. Candidates will also be grilled on their knowledge of such critical topics as the state bird, the state flower and "other things someone needs to know in order to run California," says Game Show Network honcho Rich Cronin.

Best of all, the game show format will eliminate any need for boring pundits and spin doctors to come on afterward and analyze who won. "This will be the first debate where there is a clear winner at the end," Cronin says. The candidate with the most points will also receive a campaign donation of $21,200 from the Game Show Network, the maximum corporate donation allowed under election laws.

Although the lineup of contestants hasn't been finalized, the recruits will probably be "underdog and celebrity candidates," such as Gary Coleman, billboard star Angelyne and comedians Gallagher and Don Novello, Cronin says. We'd like to see Gray Davis on the show too, but it wouldn't be a fair fight because he'd have to start with minus $38 billion on his scoreboard.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for "The Hollywood Squares" says his show is also considering a gubernatorial edition. "Our lawyers are looking into what would be required" in terms of not violating equal-time laws, the spokesman said.

Note to Davis: Maybe your anti-recall lawsuits would have had better luck if they'd been filed in a court that actually has jurisdiction over such matters, such as "Judge Judy."

A plan to erase the state deficit

Porn star candidate Mary Carey says she'll install a Webcam in the governor's mansion.

Late-night blotter

"Things are not looking too good for California Gov. Gray Davis. In the latest popularity poll, he was three points behind the movie 'Gigli.' " (Jay Leno)

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