This is the story of 135 power-hungry status seekers, seemingly chosen at random to take part in the latest and most embarrassing display of political absurdity this side of the 2000 Presidential debacle.

Armed with a paltry $3,500 and 65 signatures, anyone, and I mean anyone, became eligible to join in the historical scrum to replace the soon to be disposed Governor Gray Davis, subsequently spawning the ever-evolving circus we are now bombarded with on a minute-by-minute basis. Of the prospective “candidates”- and I use the term hesitantly- notoriety does not necessarily correlate to qualification.

To wit: Arnold Schwarzenegger, who amazingly makes former professional wrestler turned Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura seem like the late, great John F. Kennedy, and whose resume includes mind numbingly simplistic action films and a Mr. Universe title, is the latest frontrunner.

Joining the potential Governator in the semi-celebrity ranks are Gary Coleman, Gallagher, and Larry Flynt, the self proclaimed, “Smut peddler who cares.” If a crack-smoking midget former television star, chronic watermelon smasher, and porn baron aren’t capable of leading this country’s most powerful state out of its interminable haze of economic despair, massive unemployment rates and public education woes, perhaps a qualified politician is the answer?

Enter Senator Tom McClintock and Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, respective candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties. At first glance, both are seemingly qualified and capable candidates, but a closer look reveals fatal flaws that will doom both men to political purgatory. While McClintock claims to be a strong supporter of Prop. 54, dismissing racial profiling as unethical, his words on Hispanic immigrants seem to bring up a conflict of interest. This perceived intolerance, brought to the forefront during several recent debates, calls into question his integrity, and leads many to believe his actions are often far different than his words.

Unlike right-winger McClintock, Bustamante’s stance on immigration and naturalization is as liberal as they come. One of his main platforms, and a lightning rod for controversy, is Bustamante’s promise to grant drivers licenses, as well as all basic government services, to undocumented immigrants, a stand he will hard-pressed to sell to a public struggling with financial concerns of their own, and who will most likely be unwilling to pay out more tax money for non-citizens here to take more positions from the already over saturated job market. Also working against Bustamante is his close association with Davis, and the fact that under their joint stewardship, the state has taken a drastic step back since the Pete Wilson regime.

With October 7 approaching rapidly, the fate of California rests in our collective hands, a scary thought when taking into account the number of ignorant citizens with the right, but perhaps not the brain, to vote in an educated, informed way. If this is truly the case, and our fellow Californians vote with the box office and not for the benefit of the state, we stand to be in for a nauseating reign of vapid Terminator quotes and Hummer references.

Of course, I suppose I could move to one of 49 other states in the union. But on second thought, President Bush has control over them as well, a fact that is nearly as frightening as Conan the Barbarian in the governor’s residence.

Drew Atkins is a Daily Nexus staff writer.