California's "Green" Governor's Love Affair with His Private Jet
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Sacramento's not such a bad place: The summer heat and lousy air quality are balanced by the outdoor recreational opportunities and an unpretentious, small-town feel. But if you're a international movie star used to the bright lights of Hollywood and you somehow get yourself elected governor of California, surely you can't be expected to actually live there.
The first governor to fit that description, Ronald Reagan, had nothing against Sacramento per se, but Nancy found the historic governor's mansion near the Capitol a dump. The state built a new residence in the suburbs that became a white elephant after Jerry Brown decided he preferred a mattress on the floor of a studio apartment.
Today we have Arnold Schwarzenegger, who at first toyed with the idea of buying a home and moving his family to Sacramento, then took up residence in a hotel penthouse across the street from his office. But he missed his kids in Brentwood, and he already had a private jet at his disposal, so of late he's been flying home at night and back in the morning. It's a three-hour round trip, not that extreme a commute in California today.
The governor pays for his jet-set commute from his own pocket -- more than half-a-million dollars a year. But wait? Isn't this the same Arnold Schwarzenegger who last year was featured on magazine covers as an environmental hero? The same one who flexed his muscles to lead California's fight against global warming? The one who must be aware of the vast amount of global-warming gases and air pollution his jet is spewing?
Bill Walker is a native Texan in exile in California, who runs the west coast office of Environmental Working Group.