CASSATT & BROOKINS
CALIFORNIA - I came out here because I've been reading disturbing reports that my state, Florida, is about to lose the coveted title of ''The Doofus State,'' which we Floridians worked so hard to win following the 2000 presidential election by not being able to figure out whom we voted for. We have been The Doofus State for just two lousy years, and now these greedy Californians, who had the title for decades, are trying to get it back.
I regret to say that they have an excellent shot. The political situation out here is very bad.
Q. How bad is it?
A. One of the saner-sounding people involved is Larry Flynt.
How did California get into this mess? Everybody agrees that the root cause is a person named ''Gray'' Davis, who has the warm personal charm of a sea urchin. Incredibly, Californians elected him governor twice. It's still not clear how this happened. Apparently, from time to time the entire California electorate goes to a bar and chugs industrial quantities of margaritas, and it gets late, and one thing leads to another, and the next morning the electorate wakes up in a dingy motel room, and there, snoring next to it, is: Gray.
To make matters worse, Gray lost the state budget surplus. California had this gigantic surplus, billions and billions of dollars, and now it's gone. They've looked everywhere, but nobody can find it. It is the Weapon of Mass Destruction of budget surpluses.
So now Gray is spectacularly unpopular. Everybody despises him. When he tries to get into the governor's house, his own dog attacks him. When he calls for his security personnel, they side with the dog.
Of course California is not the first state to find itself being led by a known bonehead. Many other states have gone through this ordeal, and the way they have traditionally handled it is to pretend that the bonehead is competent and popular, thus causing him to be so impressed with himself that he resigns from the governorship and runs for president of the United States.
But California has a unique system of government, known technically as the ''Any Random Loon Can Put Any Random Thing On the Ballot If Enough Random Loons Agree'' system. If you're a Californian, and you want to put something to a statewide vote, all you have to do is gather a couple of million signatures. That sounds like a lot, but in California you can get that many signatures in 45 minutes merely by approaching disgruntled motorists gridlocked on a freeway during rush hour (6:30 a.m-11:30 p.m.) and having them pass your petition from car to car. As a result, Californians are constantly voting on things. They have repealed gravity several times.
So now there's going to be an election to decide whether to recall Gray, and it is causing massive political turmoil. Gray is a Democrat, so the Democratic Party pretty much has to support him, although its support has been less than enthusiastic, as indicated by the party's official campaign slogan: ``Gray Davis: Maybe He'll Improve.''
If Gray gets dumped, there are literally hundreds of candidates vying to replace him. Under California election law, virtually anybody can run for governor, except of course smokers. Porn King Larry Flynt has courageously thrown his hat into the ring, despite the very real risk that he will draw attention to himself. (Larry's hat is still in the ring; nobody wants to pick it up, because who knows where that thing has been?)
Also on the ballot are Arnold Schwarzenegger (who has promised to straighten California out by, quote, 'Not making any more movies''); Arianna Huffington, former wife of former congressperson Michael Huffington; the Huffingtons' former cat, Puffington Huffington; Demi Moore; her cute new boyfriend; the Oakland Raiders; the late Bob Hope; and Harold R. Wankmilker, a resident of Nevada who accidentally got on the ballot when he attempted to pay a California speeding ticket by mail.
Gray's campaign strategy is to remind the voters that if they dump him, they'll wind up being governed by some wingnut. His opponents' strategy is to remind the voters that if they don't dump Gray, they'll wind up with: Gray. Opinion polls show that the voters currently favor Puffington.
But the point is that California is embarrassing itself hugely, and people are starting to forget about Florida, and all the hard work we Floridians did to become the top national laughingstock. Well, I have a message for you Californians: We're not going to take this lying down. You're in the limelight now, but there's another presidential election coming, and we're going to be ready.
We're bringing back the chads.