OUR VIEWS DON’T COUNT IN CALIFORNIA

‘You know what I’m going to do?” I say to the Expert. “I’m going to vote for Arnold.”

“No, you’re not,” says the Expert.

“Yes, I am,” I say. “I’m going to vote for Arnold, because an actor is just what California deserves. I’ve read all the papers. I’ve seen all the debates. The whole thing has turned into such a circus-like Fellini film, only an actor should come out on top. I’m going to do it. I’m going to vote for Arnold.”

“No, you’re not,” says the Expert.

“Why not?” I say. “Oh, wait. Because of the womanizing thing? Because six women told the L.A. Times that Arnold grabbed them inappropriately?

“Or because his platform is based on movie quotes? Is that why you say that? Because whenever someone asks for his economic plan, he says ‘Hasta la vista’? Because whenever someone asks for his energy plan, he says, ‘I will terminate Gray Davis’? Well, let me tell you something. I don’t care.

“I’m voting for Arnold. I think it will be funny. I want to see him fly home every night from Sacramento to Los Angeles. I want to see charred robots in the governor’s mansion. I want to see cigar butts during the state of the state address.

“I’m voting for Arnold,” I say.

“No, you’re not,” says the Expert.

A vote for the dull guy

“OK, fine,” I say. “I’m voting for Gray Davis. Let’s face it. The guy is a stiff, but he’s not Lucifer. Every problem California ever had has been lumped on his shoulders. They’re blaming him for the ’89 earthquake. They’re blaming him for the gold rush.

“But here’s the thing: He’s learned his lesson. This whole mess has scared him straight. No more Mr. Cardboard, out there raising every dollar he can for himself. Davis has seen the error of his ways. He’ll be a better governor now than he ever would have been — and he still knows the ropes better than the rest of them.

“That’s it,” I say. “I’m voting for Davis.”

“No, you’re not,” says the Expert.

“OK, OK, you got me,” I say. “I couldn’t really vote for Davis. He’s the walking dead. But I will vote for Cruz Bustamante. I’ll tell you why. He’s been inside. He’s seen the mistakes his boss has made. He really is next in line. And just because Arnold bulldozed him during the debate is no reason to deny his qualifications.

“Besides, putting Bustamante in would really unnerve the Republican zealots who so desperately want to own that office they’re endorsing Schwarzenegger, who is pro-choice and pro-gay rights, two things they claim to despise. It’ll serve them right to spend all this money and all this hate-filled effort just to see another Democrat take over.

“Bustamante. He’s my man,” I say. “I’m voting for him.”

“No, you’re not,” says the Expert.

A vote for the child actor

“OK. OK. I’m not voting for Bustamante. Any guy who gets pancaked by Arianna Huffington can’t weather the rigors of office. Here’s who I’m voting for: Tom McClintock. You know why? Because he’s the only one who’s been true to himself. He’s a Republican. He’s a conservative. He’s a politician. And he hasn’t changed. He’s not a Johnny-Come-Lately. He’s not an actor.

“Mark it down. McClintock has my vote.”

“No, he doesn’t,” says the Expert.

“Oh, the heck with it,” I say. “I’m voting for Gary Coleman.”

“No, you’re not.”

“The porn star!”

“No, you’re not.”

“How do you know?” I say. “It’s my choice! It’s my vote! How do you know I’m not going to vote for those people?”

“Because,” says the Expert, “you don’t live in California.”

“Then why are we watch . . . “

“You don’t live in California. You don’t get a vote. It doesn’t matter what you or the millions of other non-Californians think about this.”

“Hmm,” I say. “In that case, you want to catch a movie Tuesday night?”

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. He will sign copies of his new novel, “The Five People You Meet In Heaven,” at 12:30 p.m. today at Little Professor Book Center in Dearborn and at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Little Book Shoppe on the Park in Plymouth.

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