Vol. 1, Issue 27, November 18, 2003
Schwarzenegger Mispronounces Oath of Office; New Recall Election Mandated
Election-weary Californians were shocked and dismayed yesterday when Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger mispronounced several words when taking his oath of office.
"I really don't see what the problem is," said the frustrated and upset Schwarzenegger as he met with reporters following the unexpected debacle. "President Bush mispronounced five words in his oath, including 'America,' but you let him keep his job!"
George Bush, however, did not have to meet the torturously exacting and often self-conflicting standards of California law. Under an obscure amendment to the California Constitution passed in 1898, if an elected official fails to correctly recite the oath of office with his hand on a Bible, a recall election is immediately mandated.
"Well, this amendment was passed at the height of the evangelical movement sweeping Western America in the late 19th century," said University of California Berkeley political science professor Joan Evans. "At the time, it was thought that the power of the Good Book would strike the tongue of any perjurer unworthy to speak the oath."
The amendment has gone virtually unnoticed for over a century, rendered superfluous since no governor-elect has ever failed to read the oath correctly, and eclipsed by nearly a hundred years of significant, often random changes to California's legal code.
"Another election?" said inauguration attendee Brent Snyder. "Please tell me you're kidding. Please. I will pay you actual money to say that you're kidding."
To complicate matters, the recall election falls under the scope of a referendum passed in 1973 which requires that, in the event the results of a recall election are rendered invalid for any reason, candidates for the following recall election are selected at random from a minimum of 500 households throughout the state. "We passed a lot of 'groovy' referendums back then," lamented Evans. "Thank goodness Schwarzenegger doesn't have red hair; otherwise referendum 14 from 1974 would have kicked in and we would really have had a circus on our hands."
"Everyone, please watch for a very important purple and white card which may be arriving in the mail during the second week of December," said Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, who then recited the oath of office three times fast with a defiant look at Schwarzenegger across the podium.
The new recall election will take place in February. The cost is projected to be approximately fifty million dollars to the state, not counting the campaign funds which each candidate with a net worth under $500,000 is entitled to, under the terms of the 1973 referendum.
"I am so there," said a gleeful Gray Davis, as he rushed out to lease as many mailing addresses as possible.