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RECALL MADNESS

Pinning candidates to the wall

September 23, 2003|Roy Rivenburg | Times Staff Writer

On the heels of recall playing cards, dolls and clothing ("I spent $1.7 million trying to attack democracy, and all I got was this stupid T-shirt"), now there's a recall wall calendar.

Created by a San Diego company that sold knockoff Princess Diana jewelry in 1997, the calendar spotlights one candidate each month. Fortunately, the company whittled the list of aspiring governors from the original 135 (11 years' worth) to 16 (enough to cover 2003-04).

The final cut includes a mix of front-runners, celebrities and unknowns, from Cruz Bustamante to Abner Zurd. Sadly, the candidates got to pick their own photos and quotes. Thus, a golden opportunity for fun was squandered.

For example, self-proclaimed fiscal tightwad Tom McClintock could've been shown driving around in his taxpayer-financed Mercury Grand Marquis (which runs the third-highest expense tab among cars driven by the 40 members of the state Senate), along with his 1990 quote in favor of eliminating free automobiles for legislators: "Surely they can pay for their own cars."

Here are other changes we'd make to the calendar:

* Swap Arnold Schwarzenegger's calendar quote about "cleaning house" in Sacramento for this gem from a Fox News interview: "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."

* Replace Bustamante's photo with a list of accomplishments from his highly touted economic development commission. According to the Orange County Register, the commission received $792,000 in state funding for the last two years but has never even held a meeting. Bustamante, who has been less accessible to the press lately than Schwarzenegger (a tidbit that rarely gets reported), declined repeated requests from the newspaper for information on what the commission has done.

The real calendar, which retails for $15 at Barnes & Noble bookstores and online (www.recallcalendar.com), also includes assorted bits of recall trivia. Sample: In 1940, Democratic California Gov. Culbert Olson faced three recall attempts (apparently, right-wing power grabs were even more popular 60 years ago). The final try came close to gathering enough signatures, but the momentum was reportedly derailed by the distraction of Nazi Germany invading France.

Here's a bit of trivia the recall calendar missed (courtesy of LA Weekly): Darrell Issa spent $1.7 million to help collect the 1.6 million signatures that put the recall on the ballot. That's $1 per vote.

In contrast, Gray Davis shelled out $76 million for the 3.5 million votes he received last November. That's $22 per vote.

Quote of the day

From Carl A. Mehr, 70, the oldest official candidate in the recall race, commenting on a court decision to delay the election: "I might not even be alive in March. Heck, all of us may be dead. Is that what they want?"

Late-night blotter

"Israeli officials say they have agreed in principle to getting rid of Yasser Arafat, but they just aren't sure yet how or when. Kind of the same as California is with Gray Davis." (Jay Leno)

"In the Miss America contest, for the talent part, Miss California showed how to use a punch card ballot." (Leno)

Senior advisors: Cary Schneider, Associated Press, Game Show Network, politicalhumor.about.com. E-mail roy.rivenburg@latimes.com.

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