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Governor Schwarzenegger takes on the Democratic legislature and looks to terminate California's budget woes.

11:00 PM, Dec 4, 2003 • By BILL WHALEN
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In pushing for the deficit bond, Schwarzenegger faced a choice: stay in Sacramento and work the legislature, or hit the road and work the crowds. The latter approach prevailed. As he did during his recall bus tour, Schwarzenegger barnstormed the state, south to north. But this time, with select stops in districts represented by swing Democrats. Schwarzenegger also made time for the friendly confines of the conservative talk radio circuit.

As in the recall, the music blared (the more stately "Taking Care of Business," by Bachman Turner Overdrive, replacing Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It"--sure, it's a Canadian band, but we live in a NAFTA age). Schwarzenegger made it clear as to who the bad guys are in this debate: "The 'never again' spending limit will be the equivalent of taking the state credit card(s) away from the politicians, cut them in half . . . and throw them in the garbage can," he told a San Diego crowd. And to prove his point, the Governator whipped out an oversized facsimile of a state of California credit card and snapped it in half.

Little did the voters know that, in choosing Arnold Schwarzenegger over fellow recall candidate Gallagher, they'd still get prop comedy. And little did the Democratic legislature expect to wind up like one of Gallagher's watermelons.

Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he follows California and national politics.

Correction appended 12/5/03: The article originally identified Steve Westly as the insurance commissioner. He is the state controller.