Danny DeVito for Governor: Dump the Evil Twin!

In the 1988 movie, Twins, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito play twins resulting from a genetic experiment in which they were separated at birth. Arnold was raised in an island paradise by a private tutor to be an innocent intellectual, while Danny was dumped in an orphanage and survived the mean streets of New York to become a small-time crook.

In real life, the voters of California recalled their governor in 2003 and sought a replacement. In seeking the role, Schwarzenegger cast himself as an independent, fiscally-conservative, moderate. Relying on his uberman role as the "Terminator," he promised to end "politics as usual." He pledged to maintain education funding and to "work to expand the dream of college." Staying in character as a political innocent, Arnold renounced his salary and promised that he would not be indebted to "special interests."

When it was reported in the last week before the election that Schwarzenegger had sexually harassed 16 different women and had bragged about joining fellow weight lifters in having group sex in public with a woman at the gym, he offered a blanket apology to anyone he had offended and promised to conduct an investigation into the claims. Arnold convinced enough voters that he was the good twin to get himself elected; however, within three weeks after the election, he decided that "there is no investigation" even though some of the allegations, including statutory rape, were felony crimes.

Now, two years later, it appears that it was actually the evil twin who seized control of the state government under false pretenses. Schwarzenegger sits like a pompous pasha, smoking his big cigars, in his personal tent erected in the courtyard of the state office building in Sacramento, receiving corporate emissaries and flying around the country bagging "contributions" from his "special interests." Evidence of the Evil Twin’s substitution is abundant:

Schwarzenegger was immediately confronted with the same budget crisis that had forced out the old governor, and he proposed the same solution he had earlier decried. The state borrowed money to pay for current operations. However, there was one difference; Governor Gray Davis had truly been a champion of public education and had supported the constitutional amendment that guaranteed school funding. To balance the budget, Arnold made an agreement with a coalition of California educational organizations to suspend the Constitutional requirement for one year. In doing so, he borrowed $2 billion from California public schools and promised to repay it the next year. When the time came to repay the loan, the Evil Twin not only reneged, but he went on to further shortchange California’s children. He failed to replace $1.8 billion of the funds he had borrowed and, he withheld an additional $1.3 billion required by the Constitution to be paid in the current fiscal year.

Not only has Schwarzenegger failed to increase education funding to keep pace with inflation, he has consigned each California student to receive almost a $1,000 less per year for education than the national average. Among all states, California ranks at the bottom of the barrel on per capita spending for education. Moreover, for the first time in 40 years, Arnold suspended the state’s promise that every eligible California high school graduate would have a place at the University of California or a California State University. Is it any wonder that the Evil Twin was recently booed by the students at his own alma mater, Santa Monica City College, throughout his commencement address and that members of the faculty turned their backs on him?

One of the issues behind the recall of Governor Gray Davis was his signing an executive order reinstating a vehicle licensing fee that had been temporarily suspended when the State’s economy was flush in 1999. With the collapse of the stock market, California was faced with a multi-billion dollar deficit and Davis authorized resumption of the full vehicle registration fee to raise a much needed $4.5 billion. Proceeds from the fee were primarily used by local governments to pay for police, fire and other services. Once he was elected, Schwarzenegger (who owns seven Humvees, each costing between $50,000 and $100,000) rolled back the fee increase that was based on the value of each vehicle. The Evil Twin made no provision for replacing the funds, which immediately caused a funding crisis among local governments that remains to this day.

Although Schwarzenegger had received support from police and fire personnel, he was quick to turn on them when their interests conflicted with that of his wealthy Wall Street supporters. He proposed to privatize the Public Employees Retirement System (the largest and best-managed in the nation) and to eliminate death and disability benefits for firefighters and police officers. The Evil Twin backed off after a public outcry; however, he has continued with a conspiracy to create "a phenomenon of anger" in California toward public employee unions.

In an attempt to ensure the quality of care provided to Californians, the Legislature established minimum registered-nurse-to-patient hospital ratios. Schwarzenegger (who has received over $1.7 million from health care and pharmaceutical contributors) enacted "emergency" regulations blocking a new requirement for hospitals to have one nurse on duty for every five (instead of six) patients. Following a suit by the California Nurses Association, the regulations were struck down because Arnold’s administration "abused its discretion." Schwarzenegger called the nurses "special interests" whom he said "don’t like me in Sacramento because I kick their butt." Nurses lead the nation in work-related back injuries. Nonetheless, the Evil Twin paid back his special interests by vetoing a CNA sponsored bill requiring all California hospitals to employ safe lift policies, such as providing lifting equipment and training to avoid debilitating back and other injuries.

Schwarzenegger (who promised to rid Sacramento of special-interest money) raised $26.6 million in his first year in office, double the record set by Gray Davis. Arnold’s "special interests" are greatly concerned about legislative and regulatory matters and include financial companies, auto dealers, manufacturers and health care providers. The Evil Twin is using these contributions to purchase signatures for a special election in which he is striving to destroy the union movement and its political power.

Although public employees presently have the right to opt out of having their dues used for union political purposes, Schwarzenegger is placing an initiative on the special ballot to prohibit such use of their dues unless the members specifically agree each year. It has been estimated that the special election will cost the state and local governments $50 million to conduct. The Evil Twin, with the support of his "special interests" is committed to spending as much as $70 million in his campaign to destroy the political power of public-worker unions by convincing voters to hate and disrespect those who risk their lives, every day, as a part of their public service and whose heroism is not an act.

Schwarzenegger entered the United States on a restricted visa in 1968 that did not allow him to work. He was immediately employed by his bodybuilding guru, Joe Weider, and started his own bricklaying business, all in violation of his visa. However, as governor, he told a group of newspaper publishers that the United States needs to "close the borders" because "I think it is just unfair to have all those people coming across." After an uproar, Arnold apologized saying he had misspoken because of his "language problem." Then, just a couple of weeks later, Schwarzenegger endorsed the Minutemen, a group of vigilantes engaged in armed patrols along the Arizona border, saying, "It just shows that it works." The Evil Twin was unable to comprehend why President Bush and the Border Patrol were concerned about the likely illegal activities of the Minutemen.

Last month, Schwarzenegger asserted control over the California National Guard by forcing the retirement of its leader. At the same time the Guard established an intelligence unit and provided it with "broad authority" to "exercise a high degree of independent judgment and discretion." Acting on a tip from the Evil Twin’s office, the intelligence unit recently monitored a small Mother’s Day rally by a group of anti-war activists, including parents of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Code Pink: Women for Peace. The group was calling for a return of all National Guard troops, 12 of whom have died in Iraq. A Guard spokesman said, "Who knows who could infiltrate that type of group and try to stir something up?" This wasn’t the first time that Arnold had used state agencies against dissent. He had the California Highway Patrol interrogate a nurse, dressed in her uniform, who was engaged in an anti-Schwarzenegger protest outside an event hosted by the Evil Twin.

After convincing California voters that he was their savior and just two days before being sworn in as governor, Schwarzenegger signed a deal with the publisher of two fitness magazines, founded by his mentor, Joe Weider, that promised to pay him a minimum of $1 million per year or one percent of the advertising revenues (predicted to exceed $2.15 million per year for the first three years). All Arnold had to do was chat with the editors once a month, approve columns written in his name, and be "responsive to … reasonable requests." The Evil Twin also promised to "remain a phone call away" to "support" a new lobbying group promoting nutritional supplements. His pay exceeded that of the publisher’s CEO.

The two fitness magazines primarily derive their advertising revenue from the peddlers of nutritional supplements which have been shown to be harmful to young athletes, particularly those products advertised as testosterone-boosters and muscle-builders. Last year, the California Legislature passed a bill that would have required coaches to learn about performance-enhancing supplements, created a list of banned substances, and prohibited the drug peddlers from sponsoring school events. Apparently acting in response to a "reasonable request," the Evil Twin vetoed the legislation, even though it had no organized opposition (other than his paymaster and its lobbying group).

Although attempts were made to conceal details of the sweetheart deal from the public, it began to unravel after the publisher had to file disclosures with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Once the story was reported in the media, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman initially panned the story as "much ado about nothing;" however, the next day the Evil Twin stated that he was ending the contract to avoid any appearance of a conflict. Naturally, he declined to return the money he’d already collected. Even a common thief, who says he is sorry once he’s caught, realizes that he can’t keep the money.

What should Californians do? The evidence is overwhelming. Not only has the Evil Twin caused great harm in his first political role, there’s no forecasting the disaster if he gets to star in the sequel. If the voters are committed to having an actor as their governor, they should at least have the right to the performance of a good actor. Californians should dump Schwarzenegger and elect Danny DeVito, as Governor of California. He’s smarter, better looking, and we can understand (and believe) what he says.