Who is the real ticket-topper for California Democrats this year? Trailing, flailing would-be governor Phil Angelides? Dianne Feinstein, facing a walk-over Senate re-election opponent? Jerry Brown, the only Democrat currently winning a contested statewide race? Or is it a duo of out-of-staters, former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore?
Evidence increasingly points to Clinton and Gore.
Bill Clinton appeared at a big UCLA rally for Prop 87 last Friday. Al Gore appears at a UC Berkeley rally on Monday.
Both men have cut TV commercials for Proposition 87, the oil extraction tax for alternative fuels on California’s November ballot. Gore started it off at the beginning of last week, with an ad playing off his popular new persona from the hit documentary film on his crusade against global warming, An Inconvenient Truth.
Clinton, meanwhile, is the public face of the campaign, with not one but two TV ads running in rotation right now around California.
The idea, according to friends of the two men, belongs to Clinton and the principal backer of Prop 87, Hollywood producer Steve Bing. Bing has contributed an astonishing $40 million to the Prop 87 campaign. He was the principal funder of the campaign against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s redistricting reform initiative last year in the former action superstar’s ill-starred “Year of Reform.” Bing is one of the most important Democratic moneymen in the country, having helped finance the new Democratic national headquarters in Washington.
It was Bing, actually, who convinced his friend Clinton to become involved with the campaign.
The idea to emphasize Prop 87 is a natural. It is a fight against a big interest group generally aligned with Republicans, in the form of the oil industry. It is about the environment, and it is future-oriented, with a focus on the hottest future-oriented political issue around, global warming.
In other words, it is a great way to appeal to Democratic base voters and get them activated for this election at a time when the putative Democratic ticket-topper, gubernatorial hopeful Phil Angelides, is tanking and inspiring only hardcore hyperpartisans.
Meanwhile, Angelides’ troubled campaign looks to have jumped the shark yesterday, as in the video above. Failing to get on Schwarzenegger’s TV home away from home, the Tonight Show, after filing an unsuccessful complaint with a Federal Communications Commission that has previously judged the Howard Stern and Donahue shows to be news shows, hence not requiring equal time for opponents, the state treasurer ended up yesterday on a raunch radio show.
Wittily acerbic LA Times columnist Steve Lopez refers to it as the candidate’s “desperate and idiotic decision to appear on the Adam Carolla radio show Thursday morning.”
As Lopez points out in today’s column, after making a big deal of Schwarzenegger’s private remarks — which he only knows about because his operatives purloined private tapes — about ethnicity and women, Angelides appears on a raunchy, sophomoric radio show that specializes in remarks about ethnicity and women. And raises scarcely an objection to any of it, including sexual remarks about his own daughter.
As very alert NWN reader Dennis pointed out yesterday, Angelides stole one of his key lines from a Steve Lopez column, about Schwarzenegger’s hair purportedly looking like it was “dipped in Tang.”
Ironically, most of the listenership of the Carolla show, young, non-intellectual males, undoubtedly had no idea what such an old guy cultural reference meant. Tang being, of course, the astronauts’ allegedly orange juice-flavored powdered drink back in the Space Age of the 1960s and 1970s.
As Angelides flails and the national big guns Clinton and Gore stump for Prop 87, the rest of the statewide Democratic ticket not named Dianne Feinstein, Jerry Brown, or Bill Lockyer looks to the future with no little trepidation.
The big labor independent expenditure money has mostly not shown up yet for down ballot Democratic candidates. Lieutenant governor nominee John Garamendi is getting the benefit of about a million dollars in labor money, now showing up on radio. He also benefits from a favorable state auditor report on his controversial early ‘90s handling of the state takeover of the Executive Life insurance and junk bond empire.
A big Indian casino tribe IE in formation is said to be largely for the benefit of Republican candidates; namely controller candidate Tony Strickland and lieutenant governor candidate Tom McClintock. Some had hoped that money would go to Democrats. Not so far is isn’t.