Arnie, California's Governor?
IN A recent edition of Jay Leno's nightly TV talk show in the U.S., he introduced his main guest saying, "Please welcome the next Governor of the state of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger''.
In the days since then, what looked like a joke in Leno's trademark style of questionable taste, has become a very real possibility.
A unique situation has developed in the home state of Hollywood: there is a distinct possibility that the incumbent Governor Gray Davis may be `recalled' that is, removed prematurely from office because enough citizens feel that he is doing a lousy job. The state has an unusual provision to make this happen if enough signatures demand this action.
And to add to the surreal feeling, a poll conducted on July 16 showed that Schwarzenegger was number two in a shortlist of possible candidates that respondents said they would vote for if a fresh election were held.
He has the pedigree albeit by marriage. His wife and the mother of their four children, is Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan. He has dipped his foot into political waters: Last year, he strongly lobbied for a piece of state legislation called "Proposition 49'' aiming to create a fund for after-school activities and saw it enter the statute books. The main reason why people want the present Governor out is because he has allegedly plunged California into a $ 38 billion crisis. An actor who has just earned $ 30 million from his latest film might look like a good choice to raise the funds required to put the state back on the rails. As part of the publicity drive for "Terminator 3'', Schwarzenegger helped raise over $ 400 million for the `Proposition 49' programme he helped push through, within days of the film's launch in the U.S.
But he remains coy about his political ambitions: "When I promote a film that cost $ 178 million, it would be unfair to start creating confusion by putting out two messages a political message and selling my movie. I don't do that, I'm too much of a professional'', he told the San Francisco Chronicle last week. But careful readers-between-lines point out that he is not denying political intentions, only deferring them.
And that may not be for long which is why quite a few people are scared. After all, Ronald Reagan took this route, moving from Cinema to California Governor to U.S. President. The regular film critic of the Chronicle ends his review of "T3'', with a topical swipe at Arnie the actor: "In politics, a candidate has to fool at least fifty percent of the people into thinking he feels something. In "Terminator 3'' Schwarzenegger couldn't fool anybody''.
Others in the Californian heartland give serious thought to his possible candidacy. Writes Colleen Cason in the Ventura County Star: "Perhaps Schwarzenegger has ideas and skills to lead the state... but if he's just playing another role, we're in trouble. We can't all walk out of California and ask for our money back.'' A.P.
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