MORE ARNOLD WATCHING….LA Times columnist Steve Lopez has a few Arnold-related statistics he’d like to share with us:

Total dollar amount of the 2003-04 budget signed by ex-Gov. Gray Davis: $99.1 billion.

Total amount of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first budget after promising to shrink government: $103 billion.

….Number of employees on Gov. Schwarzenegger’s staff who make $100,000 or more: 14.

Number of employees on Gov. Davis’ staff who made $100,000 or more: 8.

….Schwarzenegger’s whereabouts just hours after vowing to stay in Sacramento and fight like a warrior to end the budget stalemate: Beverly Hills fund-raiser.

Amount raised at Beverly Hills fund-raiser by Schwarzenegger, who earlier promised to end fund-raising during budget season: Roughly $400,000.

….Number of the top 100 donations to Schwarzenegger that came from businesses or their executives: 87.

….Number of people at Stockton mall food court who cheered Schwarzenegger’s criticism of legislators beholden to special interests: Hundreds.

Schwarzenegger sure does have a handle on the marketing part of politics, though. So far he’s:

  • Borrowed his way to a balanced budget after repeatedly promising to stop the “crazy deficit spending” during his campaign.

  • Passed a flabby workers’ comp bill that did virtually nothing to reduce insurance premiums.

  • Caved in to the prison guards so cravenly that a federal judge is now threatening to take over the entire California prison system.

  • Cut a “$1 billion deal” with tribal casinos that’s actually worth at most $200 million even if you crunch the numbers with a tailwind.

  • Deliberately sabotaged a nearly complete budget deal for no apparent reason, leaving California in its usual July chaos.

And yet, as Lopez points out, he’s more popular as governor than Ronald Reagan at his peak. I predict that the backlash, when it inevitably comes, is going to be fierce.

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