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The Gloves are Off When the Gov's on KPCC

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s always been quite the salesman, starting with his best product line: himself. As governor, he’s been assiduous in selling the State of California – surely you’ve seen those commercials?

Today he was here promoting the latest wretched California budget as not just a crisis, and a harrowing one, but as an opportunity. California, he insists, can only get better from here, if the state’s leaders choose to make it so.

He echoed one of President Obama’s points about having ‘’inherited’’ a fiscal crisis in the state. I pressed him about the need for top-to-bottom structural reform in California government, but he stuck to his policy guns about tax reform in particular. He stressed that the hundreds of millions in corporate tax breaks still in place -- at a time when welfare and health care for poor children may be cut out altogether -- will ultimately benefit the state in the shape of jobs and economic vitality.

The governor did agree that voters bear some responsibility, too, for approving contradictory ballot initiatives that have tied up the state’s ability to make some sound budget and policy decisions. [The metaphor I used afterwards, with Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies, was that of Gulliver, pinned down and powerless by the myriad Lilliputians of clamoring special interests, and frankly, isn't almost everything a special interest, especially if it's something antithetical to your point of view?]

Other highlights – Paula Poundstone, heard here every Saturday on ``Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me,’’ and on comedy gigs throughout the west. I was astonished to see her sitting down in the studio and cracking open a can of diet Coke instead of her usual diet Pepsi, but she protested that her brand loyalty only goes so far. When one caller worried about Paula’s aspartame intake, she said, what do you think I drink it for?

On Monday, Dame Edna Everage, the lilac-haired Australian bombshell and alter ego of comedian Barry Humphries, brings her uber-glam stylings to Los Angeles, and to KPCC. There is nothing like this dame!

-- Patt Morrison