The smoke-and-mirrors governor

A new San Jose State University poll released today shows Governor Schwarzenegger with a 62% popularity rating. Although polls are often over-rated, as they are often just momentary snapshots of people’s attitudes at any given moment, (except of course on election day, when that is the moment that counts the most), I find these numbers quite disturbing. When peeling away the underpinnings of the Governor’s popularity, the fact emerges that Arnold is again playing his well-honed game of smoke and mirrors and our voters are apparently buying it hook, line and sinker.

In his most current “post-partisan” reincarnation, this Governor has people believing that he is a strong environmentalist–taking credit for the Global Warming legislation that passed with great fanfare this past election season (AB32) and which he, and many of the Democratic members of the legislature used as their signal accomplishment for their re-election campaigns.
But in looking more closely at Schwarzenegger’s record, he is again the wolf- in -sheep’s clothing. After the hard fought effort to produce AB32, that would seriously and effectively start reducing greenhouse emissions here in California, the Governor has been back-pedaling ever since. He’s trying to load up the regulatory agencies that will be promulgating the rules and regulations with business cronies and has even attempted, through a Bush-like move, to re-write the letter and intent of the legislation, with an Executive Memo that shifts oversight responsibilities to a board that he controls. Although unsuccessful, this sneaky move is very telling of his real intent.
He is also pushing hard for a system of polllution credits that will allow big polluters to continue polluting by buying “credits” from companies that meet high anti-pollution standards. In a future blog, we’ll discuss why that type of system, as attractive as it may seem in our free-market world, won’t work–and hasn’t worked in places where it has been tried.
But the real disgrace and hypocrasy that seems to have gone unnoticed by the 62% who think Schwarzenegger is a big environmental advocate is his failure to come through when the rubber-hits-the-road. One only need look back a few months, to the end of last session, when Senator Denise Ducheny put a very watered-down bill on his desk for his PROMISED signature. After his big campaign contributors and corporations put some heat on him, he suddenly vetoed the measure. The bill would have simply renewed an existing law that allowed the Attorney General to recover the costs of suing those who violated environmental laws and either agreed to a judgment or were found GUILTY of those violations after trial.
For years, this mechanism has been the way the AG has been able to fund the litigation that enforces existing environmental protections. The principal has been quite simple: The polluter pays. But not for this governor. He’s no more an envirommentalist than George Bush—he knows he has to talk like one, but when its time to put the pedal to the medal, he’s still driving his Hummers….taking millions from his business cronies and allowing big businesses to avoid accountability and responsibility. Now the AG has a choice: Seek more funding from taxpayers or stop pursuing polluters and scofflaw corporations and let our strong environmental protections go down the drain.
Let’s keep that in mind before we hail the Governor as the conquering hero that he thinks he is….or at least pretends to be. When it comes to pretend, there is no one better at playing the part than this man. When you scratch the surface, this actor-turned-politician is simply playing the role that he knows Californians want. But in spite of the rhetoric and bombast, he isn’t really delivering more than lines to the people of our state.
Let’s not let him off so easy.