"This is the most gay-friendly governor California has ever had," says Gray Davis spokesman Russell Lopez to the San Francisco Chronicle. Davis also brags that he is the most abortion-friendly governor in Golden State history. And now Davis can add to his resume a new boast: he is the most transgender-friendly governor Junipero Serra's state has ever seen. AB 196 -- legislation that makes it illegal for employers and landlords to discriminate against crossdressers -- received Davis's hasty signature this week. "The state Department of Fair Employment and Housing could issue fines as high as $150,000 to employers or landlords who discriminate," reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
This is the carnival wheel that state government has become under Gray Davis. And East Coast pundits consider Californians crazy for trying to get off?
Davis signed another piece of bizarre legislation this week, as equally reality-defying as his crossdresser bill: AB 96, a bill that renames "low-performing" schools "high-priority" schools. Davis apparently agrees with the bill's author that the phrase "low-performing" damages students' self-esteem. "Words can make children have a thirst for knowledge," Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez explained to the Los Angeles Times, "or they can hinder their ability to succeed."
In Gray Davis's California, men who dress like women are suddenly women, and crummy schools renamed "high-priority" are suddenly good ones. This sad self-delusion is Davis's favorite policy mode. Confronted with an unpleasant reality, he redefines it as a pleasant one. Normal people call this deception; he calls it good government.
Davis's delusion is of course deliberate: he signed these insane bills so that homosexuals and hack teachers will vote against his recall. But his grasp of reality isn't so tenuous that he wants most Californians to hear about them. Loath to appear as a champion of civil rights for crossdressers, he signed AB 196 quietly, hoping it would galvanize homosexuals without offending ordinary Californians.
Republicans should publicize the ludicrous legislation. The legislation is a joke, but its consequences are not. In a desperate bid for votes, Davis is willing to fine employers and landlords $150,000 for not hiring or renting to drag queens. Californians outside of San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles would find this unbelievable.
Even the most cynical pols must find Davis's politics surreal. He is well beyond the outer limits of customary shamelessness. Most pols would find it hard to endorse driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Not Davis. Even as he triples the car tax and plunges the state into Third-World debt, he is pressing for a costly Department of Motor Vehicles program to accommodate lawbreakers, all so that he can rally Hispanic leaders miffed at his rejection of the idea last year to his side during the recall. "Driving is not a right but a privilege," young drivers are often told in auto class. So much for that. Davis, for the crassest of political reasons, is making it a right even for criminals.
Davis's special-interest carve-up of California has cost the state billions. But instead of suspending special-interest spending to focus on fundamentals he accelerates it. One can't pick up the newspaper without learning of some new stupid state program. The supposedly strapped UC system -- which recently was toying with the idea of hitting so-called "rich" students with a $3,000 surcharge -- announced this week that its Santa Barbara school is creating a doctorate program in Chicano Studies. And UCLA may get one soon too. Once again Californians are asked to pay for a program that divides them, a program with zero academic value that serves only to destabilize the state.
Governors "friendly" to these special interests are unfriendly to the common people they are supposed to serve.