Ladies and Gentlemen and Children of All Ages …

The circus has officially started. Arnold has declared his candidacy for the Governor of California, but then again so has everyone else. Arianna Huffington has tossed her hat in the ring. (“Does anyone … still toss … a hat?”) Angelyne has put herself on the ballot. Poor Gary Coleman was so out of the loop that I suppose he didn’t even realize that his declaration of candidacy yesterday would be as overshadowed by Arnold’s announcement as Coleman himself would be by Arnold. Even Larry Flynt is running for office. (I don’t even have to comment on that one.)

On The Tonight Show, long known as the center of political discourse in America, Arnold stated that he had plenty of money so he wouldn’t need any special interest money. So isn’t it odd that he couldn’t come up with a few bucks for a decent dye job? Maybe he thought it would be a good campaign strategy to mimic the haircolor of his most formidable opponent, the Huffster.

Add to these luminaries a long list of people that no one has ever heard of (at last count in the vicinity of 300), and no one who goes into the voting booth will know that to do on election day. Has anyone figured out the logistics of this yet? Hanging chads and butterfly ballots ain’t got nothin’ on a ballot with 300+ candidates for one office.

At this point, it seems inevitable that Arnold will be the next governor, for two reasons. First, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has broken ranks with the party line and is running as a Democratic candidate. (Do the Democrats really think this is the best ace-in-the-hole they can come up with?) Second, after stirring up the hornet’s nest, Darrell Issa has decided to run away before he gets stung, leaving Schwarzenegger as the leading candidate.

There might be some tears about who gets elected, but there won’t be any tears about Gray Davis’ inevitable departure.

California Hat Dance

Maybe it was the fact that, despite the naysayers, Jesse Ventura was actually elected governor of Minnesota. Maybe it predates that, way back to the über celebrity-turned-politician, our not-so-illustrious Prez #40. But somehow, it seeped into the collective American consciousness that the only thing one really needs to be a politician is name recognition. Qualifications be damned!

Based on an announcement earlier today, it’s feasible (though, admittedly, not exactly likely) that we could face a country in the not-too-distant future in which Jerry Springer could hold a U.S. Senate seat, Arnold Schwarzenegger could be the Governor of California, and — saints preserve us — Rev. Al Sharpton could be sitting in the Oval Office. And, yes, behind the desk. (Do you think Tawana Brawley could pass muster at a Senate confirmation hearing for a cabinet post? Even that’s possible, if Jerry Springer is doing the questioning.)

I wonder who’ll be the next to declare?

Perhaps ballerina-manqué Lara Flynn Boyle will run for Governor. It would have to be Delaware. You know where I mean — it’s that really skinny state on the right hand side of the country. Just don’t expect any promises of school lunch programs from her.

Maybe Survivor’s Jeff Probst will take a stab at a run for office. He has all the current qualifications — he’s telegenic (or maybe tele-generic would be a better word choice), he can read cue cards, he can say utterly ridiculous things with a straight face. And, at least, in office, he’d be obligated to wear long pants, so we wouldn’t have to look at his bony knees.

Why is that Kaczynski-esque tarpaper shack in the mountains of Montana sounding more and more appealing to me every day?