In the slew of voter propositions presented to California citizens earlier this week, one was missing — the “Contrition Proposition.” With all the fur flying, and what we know now that we didn’t know in 2003, there should have been a measure on last Tuesday’s ballot so we Californians could have voted a formal apology to former Governor Gray Davis for his humiliating 2003 recall. The proposition could be a “crossroads of courage” — anyone can make a mistake, but it takes a brave voter to admit that he or she was wrong.A little background is in order. Davis cruised to easy re-election in 2002 against a weak Republican challenger only to face one of the more extraordinary crises in California history. Seems the state had actually accumulated something of a “rainy day fund” of billions with the windfall revenue of the “dot com” boom. Some very sinister people took note — players in the power industry, mostly in Texas, including a now defunct company called Enron. According to a post mortem investigation by the Federal Energy Regulatory commission (years after the fact and long after the Davis recall), the power companies illegally restricted their supplies to California to create blackouts. This in turn forced Davis to commit to over $40 billion in guaranteed energy purchases at high-market-rates over the next 20 years just to keep the traffic lights working and the elevators unstuck.The blackouts were a political death blow for Davis who lost the recall with 55 percent of voters voting against him. He was only the second U.S. governor ever to be recalled. The winner, of course, was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who announced his candidacy on the Jay Leno show and defeated an army of other candidates, a few legit and a bunch looney.It is interesting to compare Davis to Schwarzenegger. Both were severely hampered by a dysfunctional state rule that requires a two-thirds vote on budget matters. A small clique of conservative Republicans have for years blocked budget agreements. For Davis, a Democrat, you would expect him to have no sway over the Republican obstructionists. But who would have dreamed that the Terminator could not control his own party? Regarding taxes, Davis never pledged, “no new taxes” and took a lot of heat for his “car tax.” Arnold did pledge “no new taxes,” only to usher in new taxes including — you guessed it — the “car tax.” Since Davis’ departure California has seemingly spun out of control and the bizarre has become the proposed. Can you image the hue and cry from the electorate had Gray Davis suggested that the state cash-out some it best real estate, borrow against future lottery revenue and divert huge bucks from local government?In an ironic flip-flop, following his banishment from Sacramen,to Davis appeared on both the Leno and Letterman late night shows, and even had a cameo appearance on the CBS sitcom Yes Dear. But no one suggests that Davis began to fill the void left in the entertainment industry when super hero Arnold jumped ship and became the “Governator.” One wonders if Arnold truly filled the void when Davis, a graduate of Stanford and Columbia Law School and a decorated combat veteran, left Sacramento. Maybe, just maybe, We the People of California owe Gray Davis an apology?
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