The movie Junior aside, Arnold Schwarzenegger had never failed at anything he attempted between the time he won the Mr. Universe title in 1967 and his election as California governor in 2003.

So the man can probably be forgiven for any belief he had that transforming the state’s highly dysfunctional budget process into political and fiscal victory would likely mirror the arc of one of his action flicks, in which all manner of obstacles, from evil androids to extraterrestrial hunters, were inevitably destroyed by the third act.

If the budget wars under Arnold did resemble a movie, it was Heaven’s Gate: tedious, seemingly interminable, and inducive of near-bankruptcy. Relatedly, Schwarzenegger leaves office with an approval rating of 23 percent, besting Gray Davis, the man he ousted as governor mid-term, by a single point.

On his Capital Notes blog, KQED’s John Myers takes you through the complete history of Arnold’s wrestling of the budget, an excellent companion to his piece today on The California Report.

Myers also appeared on Southern California Public Radio’s AirTalk broadcast, which took a look back at the 2003 recall of Davis. The show’s framing question: If you could vote again in that election, would you do it differently? Gray Davis himself appears on the show.

One person who thinks the state should have stayed the course with Davis is George Skelton of the LA Times. His editorial on that here.

And AP’s Don Thompson provides another retrospective of the Guvernator era…


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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