California dreamers: The unusual candidates
The California recall election will undoubtedly be remembered for producing the most colourful list of candidates in the history of democracy.
Below is Aljazeera’s guide to the more unusual suspects who’ve somehow made Arnold Schwarzenegger look like a serious proposition.
Larry Flynt – porn publisher
Flynt is a Democrat Party member and a long-time champion of free speech. He’s also the publisher of Hustler, a raunchy magazine that decades ago pioneered camera shots of people’s you-know-whats.
The wheelchair-bound multimillionaire calls himself a “smut peddler who cares” and wants voters to look past his usual profession and take him seriously (like Arnold Schwarzenegger). Flynt plans to tackle California’s $8 billion by allowing slot machines in private casinos and taxing the proceeds at 30%, which he says will raise $3 billion a year.
But the fact that his stable of sex magazines includes such taste-defying titles as Barely Legal will test voters’ limits of tolerance.
Leo Gallagher – Comedian
The bearded comic says he’s fed up with overpaid and incompetent legislators, and has come up with a list of policies. These include repealing the North America Free Trade Area agreement with Canada and Mexico because, he says, it’s ruining the US economy.
Gallagher vows to make shouting
Gallagher also suggests using army helicopters to airlift vehicles wrecked in motorway accidents, arresting anyone who talks too loudly on their mobile phone, and publishing obituaries for firms that go bust because “it’s sad when a company dies”.
The comedian’s trademark is to carry a large mallet, which he uses to smash things, especially melons. Aljazeera was going to interview Gallagher, but when we heard that last bit, we changed our minds.
Angelyne – celebrity seeker
A self-styled billboard model, Angelyne has her Barbie doll looks and exaggerated physical assets pasted on advertising hoardings all over Los Angeles, making her as well known a sight to city locals as the Hollywood sign.
The posters are her “agent”, she says, helping her to get interviews, media appearances, advertising work and, allegedly, minor film roles. Apart from that, she does nothing: “I don’t do – I AM!” gasps her website.
Unapologetically self-worshipping, Angelyne says she’ll fix the potholes on LA roads if elected – to protect her pink Corvette when she cruises around town.
Michael Jackson – electrical engineer
Let’s get one thing straight. He may be bad, he may be thrilling, he may like dangling small children from his balcony – but this Michael Jackson is not that Michael Jackson. Nevertheless, the 39-year-old impostor is hoping voters will either not care or not notice. Yes, really.
Will the real Prince of Pop raise
As a campaign tactics go, it’s not as stupid as it sounds. After all, the chameleon-like pop star has changed his appearance more often than the White House changed its reasons for attacking Iraq.
So, the sight of a plump, balding white man running for governor may not stop thousands of Jacko fans voting for this off the wall candidate.
Gary Coleman – Former child actor
The vertically challenged former actor made his name as Arnold in the 1980s hit TV comedy Diff’rent Strokes, and later as another childlike figure in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
Once paid $70,000 an episode, Coleman saw his career nose-dive in the 1990s. A conviction for punching a female fan in 1998 didn’t help, and he filed for bankruptcy a year later before finding work as a shopping mall security guard in 2001.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the president’s brother, has joked that electing the 1.12m (4’11”) Coleman will lead to smaller government. His campaign manager told Aljazeera.net Coleman hoped his “grass roots voice” would reach “the ears of the next governor”. Meanwhile, the 35-year-old candidate says he’ll vote for Schwarzenegger.
Mary Carey – porn actress
The 22-year-old Carey is vying with Arnold Swarzeneggar to become the first US governor whom the public has seen naked. Handily viewed on video by thousands of potential voters already, the blue movie star sees herself as a serious choice.
Buxom blonde says taxing breast
Carey promises to reduce gun violence by offering to swap firearms for porn films. The buxom blonde’s other titillating idea is to tax breast implants – which could generate a large mound of cash in cosmetically-inclined California.
A porn star winning an election – it could never happen, right? Wrong: Ilona Staller, better known as Cicciolina, won a seat in the Italian parliament in 1987 after a much-hyped campaign in which she repeatedly bared her breasts for TV cameras.
Georgina Russell – Software engineer
A self-confessed computer geek, the 26-year-old’s election motto is “brains, beauty and leadership”. Russell’s promotional merchandise includes such items as a thong with the logo Georgy for Governor (in very small writing, presumably).
But the radical Democrat stands out from the unusual suspects with a reasonably coherent leftist platform: public funding for parties to clean up politics, tax increases to tackle the deficit and extend health cover, plus investment in greener energy.
She’s also anti-death penalty, pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion, and would legalise marijuana. Russell is probably too radical to win … but the thong is set to become a collectors item.
Leonard Padilla – Bounty hunter
It wasn’t his job tracking down criminals, nor his two attempts to become mayor of Sacramento, that prepared him for politics, says Padilla.
Instead, he learnt about issues such as drug trafficking and immigration … when he was jailed for a year in a federal prison.
As a result of that “priceless experience”, Padilla wants to legalise marijuana, recognise gay marriages and deport illegal immigrant prisoners. All of which suggests Padilla’s experience of prison must have been both educational and eventful.