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California | INSIDE POLITICS

When the Gov's Away Will Bustamante Play?

October 13, 2003|Patt Morrison | Times Staff Writer

It's lonely even near the top. Cruz Bustamante is still the lieutenant governor but soon will be working with a Republican governor in Arnold Schwarzenegger -- though when it comes to warm fuzzies, it would be hard to beat Bustamante's underwhelming relationship with fellow Dem Gray Davis.

On election night, Bustamante was uncharacteristically droll, telling the governor-to-be, with comedic deadpan, "Arnold, you're very famous for making movies all over the world. I want you to feel free to continue doing that. Go where you like. Feel free to stay as long as you like. I'll be here, keeping an eye on things."

The lieutenant governor handles the ship of state in the governor's absence, and Bustamante's "go, go, don't worry" was especially funny to those who remembered the slapstick 1979 power grab by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's Republican lieutenant gov, Mike Curb.

Brown was out of state when Curb, breaking the speed limit, raced to Sacramento to appoint a justice to the state Court of Appeal and roll back pollution controls before Brown reentered California airspace. Gentlemen, start your engines.

A Few Final Anecdotes, Perhaps, on the Recall

Maybe the last recall-related moments -- but maybe not:

* Voter and Dave Barry-for-president supporter Ted Habte-Gabr found that he was supposed to cast his vote at the Beverly Plaza Hotel and had to pay for valet parking -- $1.50 for 30 minutes -- because Tuesdays are no-parking days on one side of the street, and the other side was full. When he called election officials to complain, they checked and said parking was supposed to be free in the afternoon.

Habte-Gabr told them that customers on the receiving end of service screw-ups usually get a discount or another perk. "So what are you asking us to do?" the official asked. Said Habte-Gabr, "I'd like to vote again." The official snickered. "Can you hold, please?" she asked. "Our supervisor is having a bad day. I'll let you talk to him."

* Siegfried Fischbacher, of the Siegfried & Roy magic/tiger act, told Larry King on CNN that Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, called Fischbacher on election night with their good wishes for his showbiz partner, Roy Horn, critically wounded by a performing tiger.

He and Schwarzenegger have "so many things" in common, Fischbacher said. "The family, nobody could understand. He did the bodybuilding. I did magic. Wanted to be in show business.... They wanted us to be a decent profession, to have a decent profession. Here we are."

* Click on the Internet address www.recallschwarzen egger.com and you bounce to the Web site of the Sacramento-area string band known as the Piney Creek Weasels, whose performances "often end with the audience howling along like dogs with the band."

* San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, once speaker-for-life of the Assembly and now a member of Schwarzenegger's transition team, assessed the recall fury for MSNBC as being about government in general, not Gray Davis in particular. "This was an angry group. It was 'Network' the movie all over again, and I was glad I was nowhere near it."

* Editors are in a quandary -- a longish word for "a fix" -- over how to fit the governor-elect's surname in headlines. Editors at the Contra Costa Times said they considered using his initials, like Schwarzenegger's uncle-in-law's "JFK." But as one editor said, "We looked up his middle name, Alois, and AAS, not so good. Editors like me across the state would have a sleepless night worrying about the possible typo." Other possibilities under only jocular consideration: "Schwarzie ... Beef-in-Chief ... Govnegger" and "T-4" -- the statehouse sequel to "Terminators" 1 through 3.

* And this parting thought from John Musella, a spokesman for L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, gushing over Schwarzenegger's election: "That's what we need in California -- an average person who can come into Sacramento and shake things up." Right, he's just your average multimillion-dollar internationally known movie star.

Points Taken

* Longtime California Democratic activist Tim Carpenter is at it in his new home of Amherst, Mass., as western Massachusetts director for the Clean Elections campaign, which is trying to apply political CPR to a voter-approved initiative for public funding of campaigns that was de-dollared to death in the state Legislature. Carpenter and his family moved from Orange County last year.

* First Lady Sharon Davis, campaigning for her husband in San Bernardino County, found herself shuttling between Montague and Capulet. She made two rally stops only a few miles and a few minutes apart. First there was the opening of the campaign headquarters for David Roa Pruitt, a candidate for an open San Bernardino seat in the state Assembly. Then she made it to a rally hosted by Joe Baca Jr., a candidate for the same seat. Evidently the two opponents refused to co-host one anti-recall rally, and poor Davis had to make two stops.

* Kim Belshe, former Gov. Pete Wilson's director of state health services, has been named an executive vice president of the California Endowment.

* Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, the governor-elect's in-law, will deliver the Peltason Lecture on Democracy, a lecture named for UC Irvine scholar Jack Peltason, on Oct. 24 at UC Irvine.

You Can Quote Me

"Old news."

-- Schwarzenegger, responding to a reporter's shouted question about sexual harassment allegations as the governor-elect was leaving a news conference Thursday in Santa Monica. Three days earlier, on the day before the election, NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw aired an interview with Schwarzenegger and asked him about responding to the allegations, to which Schwarzenegger said, "As soon as the campaign is over, I will ..."

Patt Morrison's columns appear Mondays and Tuesdays. Her e-mail address is patt. morrison@latimes.com. This week's contributors include Hugo Martin and Jeffrey Rabin.

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