Let’s go back about 12 years. California just did an impossible thing: they were recalling their governor, and pretty much anybody with a few thousand bucks could run to replace him. We called it a circus, but nobody actually goes to circuses, so let’s say it was like a gold-rush boom town in a Looney Tunes episode. It was political hedonism. There were 135 candidates, and Larry Flynt — the “smut peddler who cares” — finished seventh. Gary Coleman finished eighth. And Arnold Schwarzenegger won. Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of a state that, perhaps more than any other, is pretty much its own country.
It was unbelievable to witness. We had become an archetypal mob from a Great Depression screwball comedy. And it got understandably dismissed as California drunken depravity. This was just a re-enactment of The Day of the Locust. The death spasms of a state about to do what the mystics and statistics said it would and slide into the ocean. It was so unbelievable that we don’t really talk about it enough.
Or not, as the wide-open field was no Presidential contest. Still probably needs to be better remembered.