Showtime in Sacramento

Entertainment, like politics, is about the marketing of dreams and personalities. So sit back and watch Arnold put the party back in politics.

By Rob Patterson

Gov. Arnold Shwarzenegger. I'm one left-wing loony who is thrilled, if even stoked, by the notion, lemme tell you. It's a splendid result to the wackiest American election in my memory, probably ever. But after all, I'm an entertainment dude, and I know that the really good show has only just begun. And it's gonna be a blast!

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Take a deep breath, and say it out loud with assertion and commitment. Exhale all that it portends, and maybe like me you'll find that the idea starts to spark a chuckle, even a guffaw or a perhaps a downright belly laugh. It's the best election result since the lovably wacky and roguish Buddy Cianci recaptured the Providence mayor's office. Let the fun begin.

Yes, entertainment and politics are quite alike in many ways. Both are about the marketing and sale of personality, illusions and dreams. Politics has always been entertainment, now heightened to its ultimate state by the steady diet of both fed to us by the weapons of mass distraction. And who needs K Street when we have a reality show like this?

Back when I lived in New York City, people from the rest of the planet would often ask what I thought of then-Mayor Ed Koch. "He's a great entertainer," I'd proudly boast. To wit, he left office to become a TV judge and radio commentator.

I've done a good quarter-century-plus in and beside the velvet trenches of music and film celebrity as a journalist and happily toiling (most of the time) in publicity, artist management, music marketing and the like. I've met, interacted and worked with and even befriended enough fame to know it well enough to not be at all impressed. I even pray that I never myself rise to a state of fame (wealthy and noted is as far as these trousers will drop, thank you very much). But I'm a good American, and when I'm shopping for groceries, I love to check out the tabloids as I approach the register.

So don't worry -- too much -- and be happy with The Guvhnuh Ahnuld Show. It's gonna play like an Altman movie with a script co-written by Lenny Bruce and Joe Ezterhas, or maybe a Samuel Beckett play staged by Baz Luhrmann. We are talking Grade A glitzy and wild entertainment that registers in the high 90s on the laff-o-meter. A comedic romp so vivid and ludicrous we all may be lining up to get tickets for the second hilarious term like it's the Kill Bill of political comedy. So let's all quit being whiny liberals and embrace the coming delight about to be playing in the statehouse of that great American pocket where many of our oddballs ultimately rolled. Praise the day, and let laughter freely ring.

You see, I know the world of entertainment celebrity inside and out. And believe it or not, it leaves politics in the far dust when it comes to coddling overgrown narcissistic children into believing they are brilliant, omnipotent, beloved and entitled. Being a famous entertainer means never having to hear the word no, even when you're groping some hot babe who happens to be asking you to stop. And politics is ultimately the art of maybe yes, maybe no, maybe neither.

So here's the pitch: We take a calculating, muscle-bound lunkhead whose oily charm is only outdone by the black hole of his ego and send him lumbering towards an army of superhuman evils -- a tottering economy, an intractable and contentious legislature, and a whimsical, restive and eclectic populace. It's all the ingredients for a delightfully ludicrous romp of the sort that makes us Americans just love our bumbling hero for all the fun and laughs he's giving us. I give it two thumbs up.

Besides, things can't get much worse in California anyway. And the major media never headlines the sad fact that the new governor of California has not one serious qualification for the job, though running in the recall and winning does have its resemblance to being involved with the Special Olympics.

Just look at the next few years in the Golden State as one of those old Jerry Lewis comedies where some idiot stumbles into a deadly serious job, or maybe a remake of Being There as an action flick. Let's call it "The One Terminator," grab some popcorn and settle in for some outrageous roars and snickers. And hope this flick will be so wonderfully entertaining that no celebrity can follow to top it. Or if not, then maybe make us lefties happy and draft Martin Sheen for president.

Arnold is going to really put the party back into politics for those of us observers who find nothing more delightful than the absurdities of modern life. Let the show begin, I say. As long as he now has won, let's at least get something really good out of it.

Rob Patterson is a music and entertainment writer in Austin, Texas. Email

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