Jacob Sullum

Does that qualify him to be governor of California? I don't know. Is Gray Davis qualified to be governor of California? Most Californians don't seem to think so.

Davis portrays the recall as "an effort by the right wing to steal back an election they couldn't win last November." But if the recall is a theft, it's one that's perfectly legal, and it can happen only with the agreement of most voters. That doesn't sound like an assault on democracy.

Davis' supporters (I've counted at least half a dozen) say Schwarzenegger's candidacy only enhances the "circus," "carnival" or "sideshow" quality of the recall vote. Notice what all those things have in common: Unlike politics as usual, they're fun.

So even if Schwarzenegger's libertarian tendencies have been exaggerated, he can still strike a blow for freedom by encouraging people to take politicians less seriously. Running for governor was "the most difficult (decision) I've made in my entire life," he told Jay Leno, "except the one I made in 1978 when I decided to get a bikini wax."

Judging from their dismissive comments, the members of California's political elite recognize the threat to their self-importance. "The Terminator!" Davis harrumphed in response to Schwarzenegger's announcement. "I just don't want to comment."

State Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres told the Los Angeles Times: "People are derisive and kind of like joking, 'the Terminator running, you've got to be kidding.' I think it's one thing to see a movie or to see a bodybuilding exhibition, but to have this guy as your governor . . . "

If Jesse Ventura, who had a much smaller role in "Predator," can be governor of Minnesota, why can't Arnold Schwarzenegger be governor of California? His political career should be judged by the same standard as his movie career: its entertainment value.

Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
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