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The rest of the country – maybe the world – can call it a circus, but for Californians, it’s as serious as death. Whatever it’s called, it is the recall of a governor who thought he was “Teflon.”

Wrong.

Slippery, maybe. Thin-skinned, yes. Mercenary, yes. Focused and power-hungry, without doubt. All of those describe Gray Davis. But “Teflon”?

Sorry, no. The reality of the recall and its momentum are the proof. Californians on both sides of the aisle are sick of the state’s dismal financial situation. Under Democrat control, it has only gotten worse.

But that doesn’t mean Davis didn’t think he was untouchable. He did – and probably still does – despite the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the race, chased by more than 100 candidates ranging from “highly qualified” – Tom McClintock; to “tried once and lost” (lost to Davis, at that!) – Bill Simon; to “businessman, former baseball commissioner and Olympics coordinator” – Peter Ueberroth; to a politically murky, media-maven author – Arianna Huffington – to a pornographer, former child-actor, a stripper and the rest.

On Saturday, Simon dropped out. In the last election, when Davis beat Simon, McClintock ran for controller. He lost, but got more votes than Simon in the governor’s race!

Now that Simon’s out, conservatives will be torn between Schwarzenegger and McClintock who faces the challenge of raising money (he’s not wealthy,) name-recognition and media which tend to avoid conservative candidates.

Gray Davis is fighting the political battle of his life to hang on to the political trophy he’s always wanted. From the moment he surfaced in California politics, through all his campaigns, alliances and elected offices, he aimed only for the top: Governor followed by the presidency. (I suspect he’s dropping the latter!)

He’s a stiff, humorless, colorless individual with no personality. Glad-handing is not a high point of his skills but putting the arm on people or organizations for financial contributions is a skill he’s mastered.

We’ve all heard about politicians who buy votes. That description fits Davis perfectly. When he does it, it may not be illegal, but it skates the thin ice of ethics and morality. It boils down to “give me the donation and I’ll see that legislation, budgets, hiring, etc. will come your way.”

Any doubts are resolved by looking at the gains by the education lobby, prison guard union (and unions in general) and minority groups of every description during Davis’ administration. The California Teachers Association contributed more than a million dollars to Davis’ first gubernatorial campaign. Quid pro quo anyone?

Any doubt that Davis might be reconsidering his “untouchability” is that he’s getting counsel from Bill Clinton on how to handle the recall and part of the ploy is to reach out to the people.

Californians find that interesting since Davis is noted for keeping a chasm between him and average voters. He once offered to meet with state college students for a $100 donation from each!

Oh well, desperation brings out different sides of us and his private consultations with the former president, no doubt, have helped – in addition to the quick trip to Chicago seeking more union financial support.

Bottom line: It’s all about money and survival and to hell with the problems facing the average Californian who’s being squeezed with rising taxes, fees, special assessments, prices, laws, restrictions. Thousands have moved out.

The solution for businesses is to do the same. The costs of workers’ compensation are strangling more than one firm. Add to that the costs of insurance and licenses and fees plus restrictive regulations and there comes a point of no return. Get out or shut down.

Either way, California takes a hit and the solution of the Democrat governor and Democrat legislature has been to increase taxes and regulations. Davis’ new budget leaves the state with a deficit and deeply in debt.

Consider that the lone Democrat on the ballot – if Davis is recalled – is Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. His proposed solution? $7.9 BILLION in new taxes!

The biggest hits would be on personal income, higher alcohol and liquor taxes and a raft of new and higher taxes on businesses. It’s more of the same and probably worse. No wonder both Republicans and Democrats signed the recall petition.

Despite the accusations of “conservative conspiracies,” the recall is a clear message that something must change or California is going under.

It may look like a circus but, if it is, it’s got the highest-priced ticket in history.

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