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Foget Gary, Mary, and Larry. Grab a poncho and a sledgehammer--Gallagher is in the race.

12:00 AM, Aug 22, 2003 • By BILL WHALEN
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CALIFORNIA'S RECALL is Jimmy Durante's complaint: Everybody wants to get into the act.

The bar at Washington, D.C.'s Ritz-Carlton now serves a "Total Recall" cocktail. The hotel calls it a "a bipartisan drink made with conservative ingredients and a liberal pour" (three parts vodka, two parts Chambord, two parts orange juice, a dash of ginger ale, and cranberry juice; stir with ice, strain, and serve, martini-style)

Back in the Golden State, Taco Bell has launched a "recall election taco poll." Purchase a crunchy beef taco and it's a vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger; a soft chicken taco is for Gray Davis. (It isn't Davis's first brush with poultry. After taking office, the governor chose "Apollo" as his CHP code name. Members of his security entourage, none too fond of his prickly personality, soon modified that to "a pollo"--Spanish for "chicken.")

Recall, with 135 candidates seeking to replace a lone governor, is virgin political territory. What's not so new is that some, if not many, of the candidates aren't in this race to win. They merely want the spotlight to draw attention to themselves.

There's one candidate in the recall field who understands this perfectly. He sports a show-biz resume, a corpus full of violent acts, and political ambition which extends beyond California.

Brace yourself for . . . Gallagher. The purple-maned, watermelon-bashing comedian is on the October 7 ballot and also seeking the presidency in 2004.

Leo Gallagher is running as an independent. He's the only recall candidate listed as a "comedian," but not the only performance artist on the slate. Californians also have their choice of an "actor" (Gary Coleman of "Diff'rent Strokes" fame), an "actor/businessman" (Schwarzenegger), an "adult film actress" (Mary "Mary Carey" Cook), an "entertainer" (billboard queen Angelyne), and a "middleweight sumo wrestler" (Kurt "Tachikaze" Rightmyer). And of course there's sumo-class self-promoter Arianna Huffington who's listed as an "author/columnist/mother."

I TRIED to talk to Gallagher himself, but was informed he's too busy to do an interview. However, a visit to his website sheds some light on the candidate's positions.

Here's Gallagher's rationale for why a comedian who makes a living out of taking sledgehammers to watermelons is the right person to lead California: "The problem with politics is that it is too lucrative. If you vote for something you get paid. If you don't vote for something you still get paid. Anybody in their right mind would go into it. What we need is people who are not of their right mind to get things done!"

"Trust me because I'm crazy" is a catchy rationale, but not an original theme as far as the intersection between entertainment and politics is concerned. Back in 1994, radio shockjock Howard Stern briefly ran for governor of New York--as a Libertarian, just to make Mario Cuomo's life miserable. Stern, who's made a career out of talking about his failures at psychotherapy, had a simple three-pronged platform: reinstate the death penalty, raise the price of tolls to ease traffic congestion, and force all road crews to work at night. Once those goals were met, "The King of All Media" promised to resign the office.

Gallagher, on the other hand, has more than three issues on his mind. He's running:

Because the working people are tired of legislators voting themselves raises, tie the yearly legislator's salary, currently $99,000, to no more than 3 times the mean California worker's salary, currently $32,000 . . . 3 times is ENUFF!

Because California's roadways are the arteries of the economy, utilize military-style heavy-lift helicopters to clear accident vehicles immediately.

Because you act the way you dress and wearing pants too low allows the pooper part to show, expand the indecent exposure statute to include this stupid trend.

Because the state is 50% Latino, mandate the singing of a Spanish version of the Star Spangled Banner at 50% of all state sporting events.

Because the U.S. Government spends more on aid to foreign nations than they spend on California, allow California to secede and apply for federal aid to establish manufacturing plants, improve the infrastructure, allow Americans to work tax free like they do for other cash-strapped countries.

Because it is sad when a company that employs many dies, publish a business obituary in the newspaper to spotlight the loss of California jobs.

Because it scares me and I hate it, allow motorcycles to use diamond lanes but not to go between cars.