INSIDE POLITICS; New Cards Are Dealt on the Political Table

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The Los Angeles Times

Even political junkies can have themselves a merchant little Christmas.

The playing cards shown here are from the Politicards 2004 series deck. The Republicans are black suits; the Democrats and independents, red suits. There’s a joker in each color: Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore. The pack of caricature cards by a Glendale company comes with a small pamphlet listing each pol’s website and instructions on how to register to vote, but offers no advice on drawing to a Dick Cheney-high inside straight.

Internet browsers can sort through the flotsam of California’s recall for souvenirs. On the EBay auction site, a pen collector paid $32.25 for a Gray Davis Quill 747 pen in its original box. An invitation to an exclusive Schwarzenegger inaugural event fetched $338, and bids for other inaugural items were rising in three figures. (This seller of a passel of Arnoldiana had cleared a thousand bucks. Couldn’t we have plugged the deficit this way?) Of other candidates, only a Larry Flynt for Governor T-shirt was attracting bids.

Also going begging: a recall-themed Christmas ornament, with a “terminating Gray Davis” image on one side and Schwarzenegger’s face on the other. Curiously, the maker spelled the new governor’s name right — but blew it on “Give California Back IT’S Future.” (And he’s cutting the education budget?)

Now on the newsstands for $4.95, “Arnold: His 60-Day Campaign that Changed California,” cited as the “Official Collector’s Edition.” It’s published by American Media, which recently bought the fitness-mag publishing empire of Schwarzenegger’s mentor and onetime business partner Joe Weider.

American Media published another such mag during the campaign, “Arnold, the American Dream,” without identifying it as one of AM’s publications — which also include the National Enquirer.

Congressman Presses His War on Words

The governor of New York has posthumously pardoned comedian Lenny Bruce for a long-ago felony conviction for an obscenity-loaded political commentary salted with more than 100 “obscene” words.

It was, said Republican Gov. George Pataki, “a declaration of New York’s commitment to upholding the 1st Amendment.” Robin Williams and the Smothers Brothers — whose network comedy show was canceled for its anti-Vietnam War jabs — had crusaded for the pardon.

But down the coast a ways, in the nation’s capital, Rep. Doug Ose (R-Sacramento) is still forging ahead with his bill to punish naughty speech in the nation’s broadcasts, barring them from using words that can’t even be approximated in asterisks here, as well as their “other grammatical forms … [including verb, adjective, gerund, participle and infinitive forms.]”

But when the time comes for the clerk to read the bill on the floor, how can C-SPAN possibly broadcast it?

Money Goes Far in GOP Balloting Fundraiser

Orange County Democrats, who don’t often have something to smile about, are delighted with the prospect that former Congressman Bob Dornan — B-1 Bob — will run against an incumbent Republican, the almost equally quotable Dana Rohrabacher, in the 46th Congressional District.

The Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club in Orange is conducting its own “primary” in the race, and “in the true spirit of the Bush White House,” the club announced, “we will only count votes that come with dollars.”

For the balloting fundraiser, $20 buys 20 votes, $50 buys 60 votes, and $200 nets 300 votes. The club cautions, “As in Florida, some votes may not be counted, but we’ll still keep your money.”

Governor’s Aide Gets Dose of Own Medicine

You may remember Rhonda Miller — the movie stand-in and stunt double Rhonda Miller, not the convicted felon Rhonda Miller. Two different women.

Stunt double Rhonda Miller filed a libel suit against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his campaign organization alleging “character assassination,” contending that after she publicly accused him of having groped her, he attempted to ruin her reputation by suggesting she had a long criminal record. (The Rhonda Miller with the criminal record for prostitution, drugs and forgery is someone else.)

Within hours of Miller’s going public, various news outlets received an e-mail from then-campaign spokesman Sean Walsh, detailing how to run the name “Rhonda Miller” through a Los Angeles County criminal court records website.

Those who did enter the name indeed found a Rhonda Miller with several convictions — and a number of talk-radio hosts declared that the Rhonda Miller accusing Schwarzenegger had a criminal record.

But those who entered the name along with her birth date came up with nothing but a clean record.

When a Times reporter asked Walsh whether he’d cross-checked the birth date, Walsh said that he had “worded that e-mail very carefully.”

A columnist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, writing about the incident, pointed out that, “by way of comparison, I put the name ‘Sean Walsh’ through the same computer. It spit out 15 counts ranging from drunken driving to hit-and-run to marijuana possession. There is no reason to believe this is Schwarzenegger’s Sean Walsh.”

Points Taken

– Los Angeles County’s Greens — the political kind, not the golf kind — took the trophy at the recent statewide party get-together in Fullerton. The county’s Greens registered more new Green voters than any other county in a five-month registration drive that put 2,185 new Green voters on the county’s lists.

– Front and center with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the post-quake rubble of Paso Robles was GOP Assemblyman Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, whose campaign for state Senate next year probably will use all those images of him in his yellow rain jacket, touring the wreckage alongside Schwarzenegger and standing at his elbow at a news conference in the rain. Maldonado carried Schwarzenegger’s water on workers’ comp reform, and also went in big for fitness, dropping 36 pounds on a high-protein, low-carb diet.

– San Francisco fared better than Los Angeles in the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights’ rating of the arm wrestling between corporate and consumer interests in the nation’s major cities. The group rated nine categories of conflict, from privacy and legal rights to commercialization of schools and environmental protections. San Francisco earned an A-, and Los Angeles, in fifth place, was handed a C, ahead of Philadelphia and New York.

– Kate Cyrul, press secretary to Democratic Rep. George Miller of Martinez, is bailing on the Beltway, heading for Boston to “pursue political opportunities” in the land of the bean, the cod and the Kennedy.

– Any number of politicians and lobbying groups of both the profit and nonprofit kind always blanket-mail greeting cards for the holidays, but this year the East Los Angeles Community Union said it in song. Its president, David Lizarraga, and executive vice president, Michael Lizarraga, laid down some seasonal tracks on a CD holiday card whose liner notes even credited the guitars, a 1962 Gibson 335 and a 1966 Gibson 175 among them.

You Can Quote Me

“Mr. Schwarzenegger, up here in Canada I have a very big caucus. My defense minister, Don Cherry, he is a big fan of your movie, the one with the robot.”
— An Edmonton, Alberta, rock station radio disc jockey, quoted in Canadian papers as saying he had put one over on then-Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger by posing as “Canadian Prime Minister Huber” to reach Schwarzenegger by telephone. He said the two had spoken for several minutes before Schwarzenegger grew skeptical and hung up. Canada’s prime minister then was Jean Chretien; Don Cherry is host of a Saturday hockey program.

Patt Morrison’s columns appear Mondays and Tuesdays. Her e-mail address is
[email protected]. This week’s contributors include Times staff writers Michael Finnegan and Jean O. Pasco.

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