Friday, October 24, 2003

Striking the Set



Der Schwarzennator strode into Sacramento trailing clouds of glory.

"Wo ist das budget!" he thundered to the assembled, trembling, Democrats.

"Somebody get a translator!" shrieked Governor Davis, who still hadn't officially handed over the reins of power. "He's saying something about the budget!"

Maria Schwarzennator patiently spoke up. "Where is the budget. He said 'Where is the budget.'"

"I vant to know vhere you haf been hiding da budget!" Der Schwazennator thundered.

"It hasn't been a secret," said Gov. Davis. "Everybody knows about the budget. You can read about it in the Sacramento Bee." Gov. Davis handed Der Schwarzennator a copy of the local paper.

"But I said ve vould audit the budget and let the people see it."

"OK," said Gov. Davis. "But they HAVE seen it."

"They haf already seen it!?" said Der Schwarzennator. "Let ME see it!" And he snatched the budget from Gov. Davis and peered closely at it. After a while he said, "I see vhat's wrong here. There's too much money going out and not enough coming in. Either you need to cut budget expenses or you better go to the studio and ask for a bigger budget."

"The studio isn't funding this project," said Gov. Davis.

"Who then? The network?"

"Not. Not the network."

"German distributors? Canal Plus?"

"No, not foreign producers, either."

"Who then?"

"The people. The state of California is produced by the people."

"Then they must agree to pay more."

"You want to raise taxes?" said Gov. Davis. "But I thought you said you would fix the budget without raising taxes and without cutting funds to education, police, fire departments, hospitals, and parks."

"This movie is being paid for with taxes?"

"This isn't a movie, Arnold. This is a state. The state of California."

"No. Caleeforneeya is a movie and I have been elected Executive Producer, Director, and Star. You haf to leave the set."

"Don't you want to at least have lunch with me so I can give you and Maria some tips? Wouldn't you like the benefit of my experience?"

"I haf made movies for 30 years. I don't need tips. But if you want craft services to give you free lunch, I guess you can stay till then."

Just then craft services announced that lunch was served. "But the light is gut!" said Arnold. "Ve haf time for to shoot one more scene before lunch! This is just the kind of waste I vas telling the people of Caleeforneeya about!" Nonetheless, Arnold and Maria got their trays and went to the roach coach and they each got a hot entrée. After visiting the salad bar, they sat down with Gov. Davis.

"Good food!" said Gov. Davis.

"It's important for their morale that the crew eat vell," said Arnold. "They vork long hours." Then Arnold looked around uneasily. "Vhere's my trailer?"

"There's your trailer," said Gov. Davis, pointing to the Statehouse.

"It has no vheels," said Arnold.

"Your trailer NEEDS no wheels. This movie just has one location. For the next three years you'll be shooting right here."

"A movie with just one location? Who vill vant to see that? Vhat are ve shooting? 'My Dinner with Andre'"?

"Sort of," said Gov. Davis. "'My Dinner with Arnold.'"

"It can't just be talking heads in one place. There must be action! And special effects!"

"The special effects have been cut from the budget due to the deficit," said Gov. Davis.

"But then no one vill pay to see this movie! No one vill pay to see talking heads!" said Arnold.

"We don't have to GET them to pay, Arnold. They're a captive audience."

"Like vatching an in-flight movie?" said Arnold.

"Exactly," said Gov. Davis. "Our audience is trapped in the state of California. They have to watch this movie no matter how bad it is. They are the movie and the movie is them."

"This is wunderbar! It's a dream come true! Like netvork TV!" said Arnold. "We can cut the budget to the bone if it doesn't matter how bad the movie is! No special effects, no script, no locations, no costumes, no sets, no education, no police, no hospitals, no fire stations! Vhat does it matter?"

"But you promised you wouldn't cut those services," said Gov. Davis.

"That was before you told me the secret. The secret that everyone is TRAPPED and has NO CHOICE but to watch vhat I do! Now all bets are off! Ve vill start by taxing Indian Gaming Casinos and cancelling the auto tax!"

"But no auto tax means we add 4 billion more to the deficit."

"Deficit, schmeficit! Ve'll cut to the bone! Close the prisons! Close the parks!"

"But the prisoners will run wild in the streets!"

"Ve can cut them lose in Yosemite and Sequoia National Park in mid-Vinter. Maybe they'll all FREEZE to death!"

"The legislators will never agree to that. They have constituents who want the prisoners to remain in the prisons. These constituents want to go to Yosemite without being carjacked and murdered by escaped convicts."

"Ve vill cut the legislature from the budget!"

"Only the people can do away with the legislature. You need a referendum, or an initiative, or a proposition. I forget which."

"I know all ABOUT propositions! I have made countless propositions, and very few vomen have had the courage to turn them down! I'll make the people of Caleeforneeya a proposition they can't afford to turn down! I'll tell them if they DON'T do away with the legislature, then ve'll continue to have a deficit, because I'm NOT going to raise taxes. And if ve continue running a deficit, this production vill lose all credibility and vill have to be shut down."

And that's what happened. Shooting stopped abruptly the day The Governator took office. The cast and crew was sent home. Everybody in the state of Caleeforneeya had to apply for unemployment except those above the line hotshots who had pay or play contracts. But when the newly unemployed applied for unemployment they were told that there WAS no more state and there would be no unemployment compensation and that they would have to move somewhere else.

Arnold sadly boarded up the Statehouse and flew his Jetstream back to his house in Los Angeles. But when he got there he found that there WAS no more Los Angeles. The whole state had disappeared. All the sets had been struck. Just then he got a call on his cell phone: "Maria, is that you?"

"Yes, you dumbkopf! Who did you THINK it was? One of those women you've been propositioning?"

"None of that stuff vas true! I just said it to promote my movies!"

"Anyhow, you better fly to Montana. I've got all the children at our ranch there."

"But vhat about our house in Rustic Canyon?"

"You cancelled it, you idiot. You cancelled everything west of the stateline. No more Hollywood, no more Sacramento, no more San Francisco."

"But then vhat am I the Governator of?"

"Nothing. Gernicht. Get it?"

"But I did avay with the deficit! And I didn't raise taxes!" said Arnold triumphantly. Just then he spotted marauding bands of newly-released convicts that even HE wasn't strong enough to defeat. So he leaped into his Gulfstream and flew out of Santa Monica Airport with the convicts tumbling off the landing gear. "I'll be back!" he started to say, then thought better of it, now that there was no there there.