I'm feeling a bit cynical today.
It was announced yesterday that the Governor of the state of California is going to face a recall election. Now while "votes of confidence" and the rise and fall of individual governments may be very familiar to readers whose government follows the British Parliamentary model (let's face it, two Italian governments probably rose and fell in the time it took me to write this), this is going to be something of a first for us here in the United States. There really hasn't been a statewide recall election for a senior government official in the United States. We don't generally do that sort of thing here in the United States. That California has an economy bigger than most of the nations of the world just makes it seem all the more important.
From what I've read of the situation, the recall is bogus, at least on its face. Opponents of the governor say that they are calling for a recall because of the deep financial trouble that the state is in; it is all clearly Governor Gray Davis' fault. On the one hand, I would take issue with that because a) the economy is bad (especially the high tech sectors of the economy that California depends on), b) the state got massively fucked by electricity providers that manipulated the market a few years ago, and c) look around, state and federal governments are bleeding red ink everywhere right now. Do we see George W. Bush being impeached for ringing up the largest deficits in US history? I think not.
It is not as if the opposition in this case has been entirely honorable either. From what I can see, the effort is being sponsored by Congressman Darrell Issa, who has spent millions of dollars in his own money to make the recall happen... and so he can run against Governor Davis in the election. It all seems like a naked grab for power or an exercise in mob politics. The alternatives to Darrell Issa in the election include Arnold Schwarzenegger. No offense to Arnold, but the man has shown zero committment to public service... other than serving on the President's Council on Physical Fitness. I don't see how having "the Governator" in office is suddenly going to make a deadlocked political system work well. Finally, it is not as if the Republican opposition has a very viable method for dealing with the fiscal crisis in place. Their intent seems to be to dismantle the social services system in California... education, welfare, etc... in order to make up the difference in fanatic aherence to the orthodox slogan "NO NEW TAXES."
So, in honor of this political nightmare, I think Hollywood needs to make a new, updated version of the Jimmy Steward-Frank Capra classic "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington":
Jefferson Smith, a weathly private businessman, is appointed as senator to fill the remaining term of his state's junior Senator after that Senator was discovered to be having sex with Congressional pages and taking a few too "fact finding" trips to Central America with his big political contributors picking up the tab. A political unknown, Jefferson Smith is initially seen as a "great white hope" of American politics... because his "business experience" and "political outsider" status will show all those rascals in Washington how it's really done. His first test comes when he attempts to sponsor a bill to develop a "recreation and resort area" in an economically poor but ecologically rich area of his state. It turns out that development of this area will require the approval of a dam. That dam will destroy the habitat of the "furry footed ferret", a possible candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act. After learning of the resistance to his plan by environomentalists and the State's senior Senator, Jefferson Smith begins a smear campaign on Sunday morning talk shows by vilifying the environmental interests as being "anti-American", "anti-business", and "tax and spend liberal". He also privately puts pressure on the State's senior Senator by threating to implicate him in the sex scandal that brought Smith's predecessor down, based on information about an affair with an intern many years before. Smith eventually wins, and is rewarded with improved standing on Congressional committees. He is also elected to a full term in the Senate in the next election thanks to monumental amounts of fund raising and the development jobs he brought to his state.
on 2003-07-24 at 9:58 a.m.
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