by Bill Monson


I could have run for Governor.

That's right. All I needed was $3,500 and 65 people to sign a petition for me--and I could have been running for California's highest office right along with all the other characters who will crowd the recall ballot on October 7.

Could I win?

Could Larry Flynt, publisher of "Hustler," who bills himself as "the soft porn publisher who cares"--? Or how about Gary Coleman, the diminutive former co-star of television's "Different Strokes"--? Or Angelyne, the LA billboard queen, whose figure makes Dolly Parton's seem positively pre-pubescent--? Near two-hundred Californians found the signatures and money to qualify; but the one the newsfolk are all excited about is Arnold S--"The Terminator." He knows how to play the media game. After all, he announced his candidacy on Jay Leno"s "Tonight Show."

Even as I write this, some state Republic party bigwigs are urging their members to get behind Arnold because the huffalots think he can win.

They're probably right. After all, California is the state which elected Sonny Bono to Congress and a tap dancer to the Senate (George Murphy). The state also elected a linguist (S.I. Hayakawa) and a former heavyweight boxing champ (Gene Tunney) to that august body.

Did someone mention a second-rank actor named Reagan? Well, we have to share our responsibility for Ronald with the other states which elected him President for two terms.

Speaking of state gaffes, Minnesota, which is not exactly considered fruitcake territory, elected as governor a former wrestler named Jesse Ventura. And didn't New York state elect a couple carpetbaggers to the Senate named Kennedy and Clinton?

All the polls say Davis is a lame duck--that he will be recalled--but to be replaced by a man who played Danny DeVito's twin brother? Gray would probably prefer to run against Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, who spent millions to get the recall on the ballot. Issa hoped to put his name atop the list of replacements, of course, and nab the office via the anger of disgruntled voters who twice elected Gray Davis governor as the lesser of two evils.

And what happened? Issa went away, literally weeping that someone else may slip into the office he hoped to buy. Now, Davis has to face "The Terminator"--a populist Republican married to a Kennedy Democrat--who hopes to become the 2003 Jesse Ventura.

Arnold is so far out as a candidate, no one knows where he stands on any of the problems facing the state. His answers on the first weekend of his campaign were platitudinal. However, he wants to reduce the car registration fee which the state legislature tripled to help our budget deficit--and he could win on that issue alone in car-crazy California!

Davis may choose to concentrate on defeating the recall, throwing his powerful publicity machine into attack mode about how no governor could have anticipated the crash of the Silicon Valley dotcoms or the machinations of Enron and the other energy manipulators--or Davis might argue the Republicans are trying to steal the statehouse (oh, really?) and use Ahnuld as an example of Republican politics at its California trickiest. (We also gave the nation Richard Nixon, remember?) But Arnold already has a great campaign slogan: "Hasta la vista, baby." Well, anything can happen. Humor columnist Dave Barry has already come west, hoping for gold in these thar hills. Or maybe the San Andreas Fault will slip and we'll all go sliding into the Pacific. I'll keep you posted.