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Et Tu, Cruz?

Californians have always been crazy, but this is getting nuts.

2:00 PM, Aug 8, 2003 • By LARRY MILLER
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COME ON IN, the water's fine!

Well, it's a national story now. Isn't this fun? I don't know about you, but I can't recall (so to speak) ever giggling as much about a political story. I got home yesterday, turned on the tube, and there he was, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a really nice XXXL blazer, saying, "Yah."

Were you surprised? I was. (Maybe that's why I cackled like Margaret Hamilton.) The Divine Mrs. M. was knocked off her pins as well. When I told her, she said, "No! His wife let him do that?" Then she said, "Come to think of it, why would he book an appearance with Jay just to say no?"

Smart. Now, last week I wrote a piece saying I didn't think Governor Gray Davis was going to lose on October 7. My reason was: He's a great barroom brawler, and everyone has always sold him short. I still think when it comes to political street fighting Davis is, well, The Terminator, but now that the real one is in the race (The "real" one? Good Lord, what am I saying?), all bets are off, and this thing is going to get interesting. And funny. And sad.

They're not the only ones in it, you know, and it seems every hour is bringing more news of entrances and exits. For instance, yesterday afternoon a car alarm apparently went off in Republican congressman Darrell Issa's head, and he dropped out. This is a tiny bit embarrassing since he spent about a million and half out of his own kick to make the whole thing happen in the first place, and Arnold just plucked it out of his hands like a grenade. Talk about a clash of the titans.

Okay, this isn't stopping. My wife just stuck her head in and told me former baseball guy Peter Ueberroth is thinking about entering the race. I can't remember whether he's a Republican or a Democrat, or a Whig, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter. I mean, at this point, who cares? No doubt before I finish writing, Rosanna Arquette will be in, which would be fine with me. Perhaps Maria Shriver will declare as a Democrat. (You know how marriage is.) Or maybe one of her cousins will move from Maryland to give it a try. Hey, you go where the work is. Like the Joads, they could just pack up the truck and head west.

SPEAKING OF DEMOCRATS, Dianne Feinstein passed, calling the whole thing a circus ("Mr. Kettle? You're black."), but the fact that she left her name sitting out there for so long cracked Davis's armor. Being in politics makes rising through the ranks of al Qaeda look positively congenial, and when Barbara Boxer was asked last week whether any Democrats would break ranks and run against Davis, she said essentially, We're all behind him; of course, we have to keep our options open. Of course. Thanks so much.

And then Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, Democrat, took the plunge. He used to be speaker of the state Assembly, and has since moved up to lieutenant governor, if you call that moving up. He insisted, unequivocally, that he was loyal to the governor and would never, ever run, right up until the moment he changed his mind. All this can be forgiven, though, because he has the biggest-set-of-you-know-whats slogan in the history of politics. Ready? "No On Recall--Yes On Bustamante!"

Is that gorgeous, or is that gorgeous? I mean, you can't beat that. That's like saying, "No on abortion--Yes on abortion," or "Bring Back Prohibition--Can We Get Another Round Here, Please?" and doing it with a straight face, which, as we all know, is not beyond any of these people.

Have you heard about Larry Flynt? That's right, he's running. He's got my vote, too, if he just promises, someday, to print one naked woman with at least slightly better lighting. I can't speak for the rest of male America, and it's been a while since I've seen one, but, if memory serves, Hustler's use of art direction and composition always struck my teenage id as, er, unhelpful. Which assumes that "art direction and composition" isn't too overblown, which assumes, of course, that "overblown" isn't too--Oh, skip it.

Arianna Huffington is in the race. Can you imagine that? I can't wait for those debates. There's more than a pinch of jaw-dropping irony when you live in a state where millions of illegal aliens have lighter accents than two of the people running for governor.

My friend Michael Chernuchin, who writes "Law & Order," says that if Arnold and Arianna have a debate, the moderators will have to wear those headphones like delegates at the United Nations.

Also Bill Simon, who ran against Davis last time (and had a tantalizingly strong finish), is back again, because--Oh, why the hell not.