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Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

“You’ll never guess who called me last night,” Jill Poke said excitedly, challenging her friends at their coffee break Friday.

“Who?” came the simultaneous demand from Howard Bashford and Amy Handleman.

“Vice President Dick Cheney!” Poke chortled. “He wanted to talk to me about the Republican primary!”

“Wow!” said Howard.

“Golly!” exclaimed Amy.

“I’m just a bit bummed,” Poke said. “Here I had this great opportunity to talk with an important opinion leader, but my telephone malfunctioned.”

“No kidding?” said Amy. “How do you mean?”

Jill took a deep breath, then said, “I picked up the phone on the third ring, and that very familiar voice said, ‘This is Vice President Dick Cheney.’ And he wanted to talk politics!

“I was so pleased, but when I started to tell him what I thought, apparently he couldn’t hear me, because he just kept talking and told me what a swell governor Meg Whitman would be for California. I couldn’t get a word in standing on end, so I just gave up and let the veep chatter.”

“Far be it from me to one-up you,” said Amy, looking rather smug, “but the same thing happened to me, only my call was from (she paused as Howard and Jill sat forward in anticipation) former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich!

“But I had the same problem you did. I wanted to chat with him about campaign strategy, so I started in. But it was just, ‘Blah, blah, blah, Meg Whitman, blah, blah, blah.’ I’m calling the phone company today to complain.”

“You know,” Howard said gently, “There’s a possibility there was nothing wrong with your telephones. In fact, it’s likely you both received ‘robo calls,’ computer dialed and delivering prerecorded messages. All kinds of candidates are using them to give their campaigns a ‘personal touch.’”

“Don’t be a killjoy,” said Amy. “If I want to imagine Newt called me personally, just let it alone.”

“Yeah,” said Jill. “I can pretend the former vice president really called, too.”

“And Whitman can pretend we paid attention,” Amy concluded.


Hope for San Francisco? Maybe. A San Francisco Chronicle story on a proposal to allow noncitizens to vote in School Board elections drew scores of comments, and about 98 percent were negative. Many called for the ouster of Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who is annoyed by the very idea that citizens have more rights than, say, illegal aliens.

There is reason to keep worrying, however. First, all the Chron’s responses were from individuals who know how to read and write English. This means they came from people with a passing knowledge of history and civics. Second, a similar, alien-vote ballot measure nearly passed a few years ago.


Legislature already part time? Many Californian’s logically trace the Golden State’s decline to the institution of a full-time Legislature in 1966. This may be defined as a body in which assemblymen and state senators spend months making mischief but can’t adopt a budget by the constitutional deadline.

As a result, there are frequent rumblings about returning to a “citizen” Legislature, occupied by people who have to work for a living.

Besides, there is evidence many California lawmakers already are part-timers. The State Senate meets to vote on bills only twice a week, but so many Solons have been absent of late, no business could be done. Given the quality of their work, this is not a bad thing, but hardly worth their six-figure salaries.


Hope for California? Los Angeles and San Francisco have voted to boycott Arizona, due to that state’s new illegal-immigrant law, but according to a recent poll, half of Californians believe the Grand Canyon State to be in the right.

That’s well below the nationwide approval of the law, but the sampling probably includes a data-skewing number of illegal aliens.

There’s no word yet on whether Los Angeles boycott will include Arizona-generated electricity. (Los Angeles buys 25 percent of its power from Arizona.)

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