Thursday, October 19, 2006
HOLLYWOOD—Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said today that if reelected, he will launch a program that will combine his political power and his star power to “fix California, for real.”
“This program will solve California’s budget woes,” Schwarzenegger said. “It will empower citizens by bringing politics into millions of people’s living rooms. It will end corruption by making government transparent. And it will get great ratings!”
Schwarzenegger’s proposed government program is also a television program, tentatively titled The Governator. Beginning in January, Schwarzenegger said, a documentary film crew will shadow him and his aides, as well as Sacramento lawmakers. At the end of every week, the footage will be compiled into an hour-long show, which will be broadcast nationally.
“The Governator” could raise enough advertising revenue to put the state back in the black fast.
“This will be like a West Coast West Wing,” Schwarzenegger said, “but better, because I am so much better-looking than Martin Sheen. And more clever. And charming.”
Schwarzenegger said the idea was hatched in an unlikely collaboration between left-wing propagandist Michael Moore—director of Fahrenheit 911—and right-wing propagandist Roger Ailes—head of Fox News and former consultant to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Moore offered a vague disclaimer that he “sort of” supports Phil Angelides, the Democratic Party’s nominal gubernatorial candidate. He said he developed The Governator idea because he believes in “real life—not fiction.”
“It’ll be reality TV,” Moore said, “but it will be about something that really matters, instead of the stupid crap that most American idiots watch for 27 hours a week.”
Ailes promised that he will not interfere with Moore’s show, other than to ensure that it is as “fair and balanced as everything on Fox.”
“Yeah!” Schwarzenegger added, grinning. “Right!”
“These guys are both wackos,” Schwarzenegger continued. “I mean, they are really, really crazy. And that makes for good entertainment. Trust me.”
Schwarzenegger made the announcement on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he was flanked by two powerful Democratic leaders—Don Perata, president pro-tem of the California Senate, and Fabian Núñez, speaker of the state Assembly. Both lawmakers would presumably play crucial supporting roles on The Governator program.
Núñez, who is reputed to have his eye on the 2010 gubernatorial race (should his party’s candidate lose on Nov. 7), scoffed when asked if The Governator plan could hurt Angelides and help his own career.
“I kind of support Phil, but I am prepared to work with the governor when he is reelected,” Núñez said, hugging Schwarzenegger. “Or, I suppose I should say ‘if’ he is reelected.” Both men laughed.
• • •
Angelides attacked The Governator plan in a 15-second recorded response, which the FCC forced NBC to air during the Tonight Show broadcast.
In the token sound-bite, the nominal candidate decried the idea as “just another scam being foisted on the people of California by this Bush-supporting demagogue.”
“If my campaign had a vision or a positive message, and it does, it is that we do not need some screwball idea from this Bill-Clinton-hating Republican to solve our problems,” Angelides said. “All California needs is for the state’s wealthiest earners, those in the top zero-point-eight-five percentile, to pay an extra six to 14 percent on their incomes over $500,000 per annum.”
Guessing that Leno’s viewers might not understand such dense economics, Angelides broke it down: “We could balance the budget by asking millionaires in California to give up one-to-two lattes per day.”
Leno then mugged at the camera and quipped: “I guess Phil doesn’t think Californians deserve to drink lattes!”
The audience roared.
Schwarzenegger seized the comic moment: “That’s right,” he said, “Phil hates lattes! He hates lattes, and he loves taxes! But we Californians, we love lattes! And mocha frappaccinos!”
• • •
Analysts confirmed that The Governator could raise enough advertising revenue to put the state in the black 15 minutes into its third episode. Hummer, the monster-truck company, has already signed a sponsorship agreement, as has Toyota, which hopes to pitch its hybrid Prius to Schwarzenegger’s newfound environmentalist fans.
President George W. Bush learned of Schwarzenegger’s plan from the satirical political commentator Stephen Colbert, who reportedly was leaked the story by Moore. Posing as a journalist at an unrelated White House press briefing, Colbert asked the president if he would consider starring in a similar program filmed at the White House. Bush laughed and laughed. Vice President Dick Cheney, who was also in attendance at the press briefing, suffered a massive coronary.