Today’s gubernatorial civics lesson: It isn’t bribery if the $2.4 million dollars is nonprofit.

Gray Davis, our democratically bought and paid-for governor, is a busy man. Raising $21 million for a re-election campaign in two years is no mean feat. Luckily, the man has generous friends who, purely by happenstance, do business with the state and would hate to see our good governor waste away on only his salary. That’s why they set up charitable organizations for a needy governor: $234,000 to keep the mansion in trim, $664,000 for travel and at least $1.5 million for a movie star party at last summer’s Democratic National Convention.

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Jerry Brown, California’s first and, damn well likely, last guru governor, slept on a mattress on the bare floor of an apartment when he was in office. The man in Gov. Gray’s flannel suit prefers the fine lumbar “get a good night’s sleep” support of nonbribe bribes.

Naturally, this is because Davis cares a helluva lot about the taxpayer. Joe and Joette Six-Pack already have so much to pay for in this state – such as giant animal factory prisons and the war against Humboldt County’s lethal pot plants – that it would just be a crime to make them foot the bill for an honest governor.

Gary South, Davis’ top strategist and gunslinger, told Los Angeles Times Reporter Don Morain that, “It’s the governor’s belief that it’s more appropriate to do the activities with private funds rather than tax funds.”

Remember: There’s nothing at all disreputable about these donations because, as Davis’ chief fundraiser said to the Times, “The governor doesn’t do any soliciting.” Of course not – the left and right hands have no idea where the money in the back pocket came from. Neither does the public, really, because the money goes through nonprofit organizations that are not subject to the disclosure laws that campaign donations are.

Also remember: These are not political contributions, oh heavens no, they are charitable “adopt-a-governor” donations from corporations because people care, people do. People like Jack Coffey of Chevron, who oversees his company’s donations, will spend $50,000 on Davis’ wine ‘n dine in L.A. Actually, Coffey was willing to own up to the dough being a dollar-sign-bearing love note to the governor.

“We recognized we were getting involved in the political process,” he told the Times. “Yeah, it may not be campaign money. But it is political money.”

Pacific Telesis, however, has more faith in the benevolent nature of the $320,000 it gave for partying in the city of damned angels. The company has a few issues before the state government, such as its request to enter the long-distance telephone market, but this is purely a coincidence, spokesman Bill Mashek told the Times.

“It was not a political contribution,” he said, “but rather a … charitable contribution.”

Pacific Telesis is not bribing the governor, oh my no, it likes the nightlife. It likes to boogie. And if boogying with a bunch of powerful white guys happens to cost $320,000, well hey, you got to pay to party with the Party.

Some fellow revelers: British Petroleum Amaco gave $200,000, and Cadiz Inc, Metabolife International and State Farm Insurance coughed up $50,000 each.

The remaining $1.67 million or so is unaccounted for, thanks to the nonprofit nondisclosure business. What is this money going for? A remarkable $41,397 was needed to maintain the governor’s mansion last year and another $448 on cable television. Also in 1999, there was a $161,000 dinner for then-President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo and $64,000 for a two-week trade mission trip to Europe. All of these treats, and more, were paid for by the governor’s benevolent buddies.

I need benevolent buddies. It isn’t right that the Daily Nexus, a student publication partially funded by student money, should be forced to pay for any part (and if you’ve seen the checks, you know it’s a very small part) of my housing, transportation, eating, boozing and whoring. This should be done with private money (defined as “not mine”), which is why I am establishing the nonprofit Journalist Inebriation Fund.

Who would donate? Well, naturally I couldn’t know, but my advisers assure me that nearly anyone’s money would be welcome, be they a corporate CEO, local businessman, drug runner, white-slave trafficker or even a UCSB student.

And remember: Your contribution would be a charitable contribution, which means something entirely different than “money to get me blitzed and naked in a motel pool with a half-dozen unsuccessful actresses.”

If you wish to contribute to the Journalist Inebriation Fund, drop off an unmarked, cash-filled envelope at the Daily Nexus office under Storke Tower – your patriotism will be appreciated by Brendan Buhler, an assistant campus editor who’s column, “Black Box,” appears only when sufficient gin money can be located.