Debra J. Saunders

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A caravan of big-rigs drove by the state Capitol Tuesday morning, the drivers leaning on their very loud horns in protest of a proposed diesel-fuel rule. When I interviewed Gov. Gray Davis later that day, he tells me he never heard them.

Apparently, Davis doesn't hear at lot of things. He doesn't hear the anger of voters clamoring to recall him from office. He doesn't hear the whispers in the Capitol that he is irrelevant in budget negotiations. He doesn't hear a little voice inside his head that should be yelling, "You've got to start kicking butt and taking prisoners, you lump."

As we sit at the gubernatorial conference-room table, I mention the recall and ask the governor why he is in this position.

"In what position?" he asks.

(Facing a probable recall, Gov. Denial.)

"I think you see from today's newspaper, the public is in a sour mood about all of its elected officials," Davis answered, citing The San Francisco Chronicle's Tuesday story on the Field Poll, which showed a mere 19 percent of voters approve of the Legislature's performance, even worse than the governor's 23 percent approval rating.

When I asked if there was any animus toward Davis in particular, he replied: "But it's clear it's across the board. If I were the only problem in California, their attitudes toward the Legislature would be different."

As the saying goes, misery loves company.

There's a lawsuit by Davis allies that could slow down the certification process and stall a recall election until March. So I ask: If the recall is so bad for California because it breeds uncertainty, isn't it in the state's best interest for a recall to occur sooner rather than later?

Again, Davis points elsewhere. Referring to the independent campaign behind the lawsuit, the governor answered, "You'll have to talk to the people who put together the lawsuit." Although he did add that it's "perfectly appropriate" for others to sue.

Does Davis think it's wise to run such a nasty campaign against recall financier Darrell Issa? (Consider Democratic prankster Bob Mulholland's efforts to find a 1972 Maserati -- to remind people that Issa once was charged with car theft, even though Issa never was convicted.)

Now Davis is engaged. He winks at me, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. "

Besides, he added, the examination of Issa's life is "fair game," considering that the recall will cost taxpayers "$35 million to $60 million." (The secretary of state estimates $30 million to $35 million.)

Debra J. Saunders

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