Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A graying Brown

Inspired by the return of Indiana Jones to the big screen, Jerry Brown, the guy who was governor of California when I was a kid, wants to have a go at the job again (or so says the Los Angeles Times).

Just as Harrison Ford hadn't worn the fedora on film since the 1980s, it has been decades since Jerry Brown was in the Governor's Office. Jerry Brown became governor in 1975 and was reelected in 1978, leaving office in 1983. That was the year Harrison Ford starred in the last of the original Star Wars trilogy, and one year before Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

If Brown wins in 2010, it will have been twenty-eight years between his governorships. Term limits passed in 1990 would not apply to him. Though he is in his seventies now (Harrison Ford himself will be sixty-seven in July) and it has been thirty-four years since he first became governor, Brown will tout his experience at a time when the Great State of California is being crushed under its own fiscal weight. It's not time for amateurs, even if they have played action heroes. 

Jerry Brown is a colorful character who embraced Zen Buddhism and clean-air standards, earning him the nickname "Governor Moonbeam." The down-to-earth politico refused to move into the Governor's Mansion, sleeping on a mattress in a rented Sacramento apartment. The governor made tabloid headlines for his romantic attachment with popular singer and all-around hottie Linda Ronstadt [at left]. 

Since that time, however, the rest of the state has caught up with the governor. In addition to no one really caring anymore that the chief-of-state is nto Zen and dates celebrities, Californians are proud of the great progress made by their state in terms of clean air and water, something in which we have led the rest of the nation. 

None of this is a done deal. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa may wish to run, as might San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, the guy who let all those gay people get married to each other for a while, causing long lines at City Hall that backed up into tourist areas and made my parents nearly miss their flight back to Orange County. Man, oh, man, we'll never hear the end of that. 

My money's on Newsom [at left], whose wife is totally hot. You need to have a good-looking spouse to go anywhere in politics these days, and being married to a hottie can make all the difference. Jennifer Siebel isn't exactly a perennial Oscar contender—yet!—but she plays the role of First Lady of San Francisco pretty well (though I'm sure there are a lot of pretenders to that throne). 

Hotness counts in politics. Senator John McCain's wife is pretty hot, for her age; that's the only reason he even came within six points of President Obama in 2008. Former First Lady Laura Bush was also an HFHA (hottie for her age). I guess we make allowances for really high office. 

Michelle Obama is a hottie in her own right. But that might be because she's only forty-five years old. 

Guess who else was a hottie? That's right: Martha Washington. Total hottie. Why hubbie George was out boffing all the slaves, I'm not sure, but Martha Washington was one sexy first lady. 

Gavin Newsom's own celebrity good looks and his new wife's hotness (they only just got married last year) may be enough to propel him to the White House eventually, once the rest of America can get their head around the idea of gay people marrying each other. 

At the very least, it might make it difficult for Newsom to beat Brown in the Democratic primary. After all Brown, hasn't been resting on his laurels. During an eight-year stint as mayor of Oakland, he supposedly turned that city around, and for the past two years he's been Attorney General (and is playing a prominent role in overturning Proposition 8).

Even if he wins the Democratic nomination, he will face a Republican challenger. California is as blue as Bush choking on a pretzel but because Republican candidates for statewide office tend to be conservative Democrats who would never win their party's nomination, pro-life Republicans have dominated the governorship three-to-one since Brown left office. 

In 2010, Brown or Newsom might face billionaire CEO Meg Whitman. She's the former head of EBay, having quit last month in order to pursue the California governorship. She also quit jobs she had at Procter & Gamble and Dreamworks, apparently washing dishes or mopping floors to make ends meet. 

[above: Former EBay CEO Meg Whitman celebrates her winning bid for the population of a small Mariposa County town, whose inhabitants will now work as campaign staff interns in exchange for eventual freedom. The "Country First" slogan is a reworking of a less successful older slogan, "Cities and Counties Last."]

With a net worth of $1.4 to $1.7 billion (depending on the fickle stock market, I guess), she could fund her own campaign, much like Schwarzenegger did when he single-handedly ousted beleaguered Governor Gray Davis in 2003. 

It's nice to know that Sacramento is open to the highest bidder. Auction ends in 628 days, 20 hours and 59 minutes.


  1. You are wrong about the Governor Moonbeam name. He wanted to put a satelite into space. At the time, a state putting a satelite into space was a different idea. That's the origin of the nickname.

  2. Hmm... you may be right. After your comment, I looked it up and a lot of places were saying that Chicago columnist Mike Royko, who coined the phrase, was referring to that.

    But I've also found some sources saying—as I thought—that the moniker was because of a whole slew of "out there" ideas, primarily but not exclusively the satellite idea. This San Francisco Chronicle article, for example:

    Take Royko. His "Governor Moonbeam" label was meant as a all-encompassing reference to Brown's interest in Zen Buddhism, his talk about exploring outer space and other unconventional (for a politician) topics. But Royko subsequently renounced that description.

    In 1991, he described Brown as "a serious man and every bit as normal as the next candidate, if not more so. . . . There's nothing strange about him, unless you consider it strange to recognize that Washington is filled with career hustlers who live from one campaign bundle to another. ... So enough of this 'Moonbeam' stuff. As the creator of this monster, I declare it null, void and deceased."

    But like I said, I was just a kid when Jerry Brown was governor, and I didn't even realize the part about the satellite, so thanks for that info.

  3. Oh, and great picture there, Nightmare Believer. ;)


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