Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Owning Arnold 

Late last night we received from a highly-placed internet source whom we cannot identify, but whose name rhymes with "Prat Fudge," a tip about a breaking story that we thought might pique your interest. While searching for it we stumbled across something altogether different, but equally illuminating -- to wit, the item below, from our waggish colleagues at the Swift Report, who traffic always in truth but rarely in facts (if you get our imperial drift):
A weekend poll reveals that most Americans are not paying attention to the CIA leak probe known as 'Rove-gate' because the story is "boring" and "hard to follow." A majority of those surveyed indicated that they would be more likely to follow the story of Karl Rove, Joseph Wilson and former CIA operative Valerie Plame if it involved celebrities . . . .

The poll, based on 2,130 telephone interviews conducted between Friday and Sunday found that fewer than 10% of Americans could identify either the main plot or any of the major players currently starring in 'Rove-gate.'

Forty-three percent believed that Karl Rove was a classmate of Harry Potter's at Hogwarts, while 22% said that he is currently in jail in Aruba, a suspect in the disappearance of 18-year-old Natalie Holloway. A scant 8% named Mr. Rove as the Ethiopian infant recently adopted by actress Angelina Jolie.

But while Americans are united in their disinterest in the story, they are sharply divided when it comes to deciding which celebrities would make 'Rove-gate' more exciting. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said that they would be more likely to follow the saga of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his spy-ette wife, Valerie Plame, if the two were played by actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they thought the tale of White House intrigue would fare better if it starred Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan in a reprise of the 1999 hit caper "The Thomas Crown Affair" . . . .

The results of the poll also reveal that the relationship between President Bush and Mr. Rove, widely regarded as being among the closest of Mr. Bush's companions, continues to be controversial. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed do not think that President Bush and Mr. Rove should be allowed to marry, despite the fact that the two have been together for almost 30 years, since the two were set up by Mr. Bush's father, the first President Bush. But some 63% of respondents would like to see the long-time companions have the same benefits enjoyed by married couples, including health, wealth and sexual fulfillment.
In one of those stunning coincidences that cannot possibly be explained without resort to the theory of Intelligent Design, the story we were originally hoping to find turns out to contain all the elements that most Americans, according to our friends at TSR, are looking for in an ongoing scandal. From the (supposedly reputable) Sacramento Bee:
Despite the furor that prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to drop his $5 million magazine deal last week, his aides declined Monday to provide additional details on income he is receiving from 20 other businesses that each paid more than $10,000 last year to his personal holding company.

Schwarzenegger's financial adviser, Paul Wachter, and his communications director, Rob Stutzman, cited privacy concerns as the reason for keeping secret the governor's total outside income.

"I think the governor, like everyone else, has certain privacy concerns, as well as the people he does business with have privacy concerns," Wachter said. "And in certain cases, we have confidentiality agreements" . . . .

"People can easily see all kinds of conflicts of interest but I don't think that there are any," Schwarzenegger said. "The key thing is as these things come up, you evaluate them" . . . .

The American Media deal raised allegations of conflict of interest because the two magazines derive a large portion of their income from dietary supplement advertisements. The Republican governor last year vetoed a bill that would have restricted the use of supplements among high school athletes, saying the substances are overwhelmingly safe. A similar bill by state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, is pending in the Legislature . . . .

"I have no problem about [giving up] the money, but my wife had a little problem with that," Schwarzenegger told reporters, in reference to first lady Maria Shriver. "She was worried - that means less diamonds or something like that."

[O]ther companies that paid Schwarzenegger $10,000 or more range from the Los Angeles-based Licensing Group, which oversees the governor's financial rights to products relating to "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Pumping Iron" movie properties, to Zurich American Insurance, the U.S. affiliate of the Switzerland-based Zurich Financial Services Group, which is a global personal and corporate insurance giant that made a profit of $2.5 billion last year.
Of course, it has been several years since the governor's last major hit (the phenomenally expensive T3 was regarded as a box-office disappointment), and if the scandal fails to catch on we would not be surprised to see Schwarzenegger replaced by a younger star with broader teen appeal. Several A-list (okay, C-list) actors are reportedly willing to undergo surgical breast enhancement if it helps them land the part of the busty Gov.

UPDATE: The state Democratic Party earlier today filed an ethics complaint with California's political watchdog agency, citing Schwarzenegger's veto of the nutiritional supplement bill.

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