LIGHTING UP….A cigar-smoking friend of mine points me to this story in the Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fired up a stogie during his trip to Canada this week, but did he break U.S. law to do it?

The celebrity governor known for his love of premium cigars was in Ottawa Wednesday on his way to the airport when his motorcade made a detour to a hotel. There, Schwarzenegger picked up a Cuban Partagas cigar in a shop, with the $15.99 bill paid by an aide traveling with him, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported.

His office wouldn’t confirm or deny that the governor indulged in a forbidden smoke while in Canada, where he was on a trade mission….”There’s no way of telling now because he smoked it,” [spokesman Aaron McLear said.]

….”Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are prohibited from purchasing or importing Cuban cigars, regardless of where they are,” U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said in a statement.

My stogie-loving pal thinks this whole thing is stupid on so many levels his head is spinning. But I think he’s missing a bet. Schwarzenegger ought to fess up to smoking contraband tobacco and then dare the ATF (or whoever) to prosecute him. Arnie can afford the attorney’s fees, it would reinforce his reputation for macho behavior, and the resulting publicity would be a giant step forward in demonstrating just how dumb our Cuba policy is. Hell, even JFK thought our Cuba policy was dumb, and it was his policy in the first place.

So c’mon Arnie. Fess up! Make it a federal case. America’s cigar smokers will celebrate you for it.