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California dreaming
How to win the governorship of the nationís most populous state without really trying

After several minutes of long and troubled internal debate, I have decided to announce my candidacy for governor of California.

To those of you familiar with my longstanding history of political rubbernecking and juvenile publicity stunts, this decision will come as no surprise. For the rest of you, let me outline my rationale, along with the platform that I expect will carry me to a landslide victory on October 7.

As we all know from listening to the news, my native state is engaged in an unprecedented political upheaval. The current governor, a very grumpy android named Gray Davis, has been made the subject of a recall, sort of like a Ford Pinto. Iím not exactly sure how this happened, but the gist of the situation is that California voters will determine whether he is to be thrown out of office, and, if so, who will replace him.

So far, 135 candidates have been certified to run against Davis, a list headed by that staunch opponent of steroids and proper English, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Nazi-Austria). He is opposed by 40-plus Democrats, including Larry Flynt (bullfrog/pornographer), Green Party long shot Ivan A. Hall (custom-denture manufacturer), and independent candidates Joel Britton (retired meatpacker), Mary "Mary Carey" Cook (porn star), Gary Coleman (extremely short former child actor), Kurt E. Rightmyer (middleweight sumo wrestler), and Badi Badiozamani (obvious villain).

I know what youíre thinking at this point: why isnít Charlie Manson running? Sadly, California does not allow convicts to run for office, though it does allow politicians to break the law once in office (see Nixon, Reagan, et al.).

The other obvious question is, in a field with so many highly qualified candidates, how do I, Steve Almond, hope to distinguish myself? Simple. What I have, and what so many of these candidates lack, is a coherent vision.

As the sole candidate on the Love and Leather ticket, Iíll be campaigning on the following issues:

Mandatory-minimum marijuana use. Democrat Bruce Margolin is running on a pledge to push for legalized pot use. Thatís not nearly enough. Under an Almond regime, all registered Republicans will be forced to smoke marijuana. They will then face the following choice: renounce their party affiliation, or be forced to listen to Republican musicians for the remainder of their trip. (Toby Keith medley, anyone?)

Southern California secession. Anyone whoís lived in California knows that SoCal is fundamentally another state. I will simply ratify this reality, in the process cutting off all water supplies from up north. The administration will then charge Hollywoodís richest stars $1000 per gallon of water, thus erasing that pesky deficit.

Lobbyist/teacher salary swap. Beginning the day of my election, all lobbyists will be paid the average salary of a public-high-school teacher in Watts County. And vice versa.

Car-pool or die. In an effort to unclog the roads of our fair state, I will introduce legislation that makes car-pooling required by law. Simply put: if you do not find at least two people to accompany you each morning, you will be subject to an automotive execution, to be staged in a live pay-per-view event each month.

Dude surtax. The use of the word "dude" would be subject to a state tax, at a rate of 35 cents per use.

Secretary for a day. In an effort to raise additional funds, and to involve ordinary citizens in government, various key roles (secretary of agriculture, secretary of transportation, and so forth) will be filled by lottery. These newbie politicos will, if selected, become the basis of a reality-TV program called Wow, I Run the State!

In addition to these policies, I will make every effort to foster diversity in my cabinet. For example, I have already earmarked the aforementioned Mary Carey as my lieutenant governor. And you can rest assured that she and I will work very closely through the long, lonely political nights.

I am well aware that some concerns have been raised ó amongst those who fear an Almond governorship ó as to whether I am truly electable, given that I live in Somerville, Massachusetts, have no funds to speak of, and plan to do most of my campaigning by e-mail.

I need to emphasize, however, that unlike many of the novices who are throwing their hats into the ring, I have a defined constituency: Jewish, left-handed twins. Amongst this population, Iím a virtual lock.

I also have a hidden army of volunteers (or, well, maybe platoon might be more accurate in terms of actual numbers) who stand ready to stage a massive get-out-the-vote effort, using both Popsicles and certain entirely legal forms of hypnosis.

It is true that the media are, at the moment, slavishly pimping for Schwarzenegger, who is, in turn, shamelessly attempting to cash in on his movie stardom. But it is equally true that most Californians have seen Jingle All the Way, which more or less erases any cinematic advantage that might accrue to Ah-nuld. He will also, at some point during the next month, be forced to speak a sentence consisting of more than six words, at which time his campaign may face a serious backlash.

On a final note, I should mention that a few concerns have been raised, primarily by my mother/campaign manager, Barbara Almond, as to whether I am in the political game for the long haul, or whether this is simply "another passing fancy" along the lines of tropical fish and Estes Rockets.

To reiterate: I am as serious about this run as I have ever been about anything. Iím well aware of the sacrifices that will be required of me and, as long as I donít have to pay too much for extra dry-cleaning, I am game.

Those interested in supporting my campaign can send gifts of cash, chocolate, or pornography to Americans for the Steve Way, c/o Steve Almond, PO Box 459, Somerville, MA 02145.

God bless all of you, and good night.

Steve Almond can be reached at

Issue Date: September 12 - 18, 2003
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