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Arnold Says He's An Enviro - Gets Heckled

Tue Sep 23, 2003 1:06 am

HECKLED: Actor tries to court environmentalists amid protest

Carla Marinucci, SF Chronicle Political Writer
Monday, September 22, 2003

CARPINTERIA, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY-- Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was dogged by persistent protesters and hecklers Sunday, as he tried to seize the environmental mantle, proposing a $60 million "hydrogen highway" he said would provide a statewide chain of hydrogen fueling stations to help clean the air.

"As governor, I will create a network of . . . clean hydrogen fueling stations every 20 miles," said Schwarzenegger, who provided few specifics on paying for such a plan.

"These hydrogen highways funded by private-public partnerships will allow car manufacturers to make good on their pledge to deliver hundreds of thousands of clean hydrogen cars on the California roads before the end of the decade," the actor said.

But Schwarzenegger's speech was continually interrupted by hecklers at the coastal site near Santa Barbara, where demonstrators carried signs reading "Vote oui on no recall" -- a reference to a racy interview Schwarzenegger gave more than 25 years ago with Oui men's magazine -- and "He's a real hummer dinger," a reference to Schwarzenegger's stable of Hummer vehicles.

The protesters arrived early and stationed themselves behind the stage, forcing the candidate's staff to hastily camouflage their presence with a large backdrop reading "Join Arnold."


Police later made one arrest after a scuffle when one of the actor's supporters attempted to take a bullhorn away from Medea Benjamin, a San Francisco-based Green Party activist who led the protest.

The event handed environmental protesters a chance to assail the record of the actor-turned-candidate, who arrived in a large SUV, a GMC Yukon.

"You just don't wake up one morning and decide you're an environmentalist," said Pedro Nava of the California League of Conservation Voters, pointing toward Schwarzenegger's role in promoting the Hummer -- the behemoth military vehicle which is one of the least fuel-efficient cars on the road.

"I say nice try, Arnold, but no cigar," said Nava, who also is a member of the California Coastal Commission.

Polls show that year after year California voters of all political persuasions list environmental protection as among their most important issues.

So it is no surprise that Schwarzenegger, who has cast his candidacy as conservative on fiscal issues but moderate on social policy, would attempt to court voters in the recall election against Gov. Gray Davis with environmental policy plans.


But Nava said Sunday's proposal failed to recognize that hydrogen technology is years, if not decades, away from widespread use.

"This is another stage set for Arnold to deliver rehearsed lines," Nava said.

Indeed, during his appearance, Schwarzenegger stuck faithfully to a draft copy of the speech obtained by reporters -- which also indicated specific cues for the actor. "Behind me (point to the offshore wells) is the past," the script said. "In front of us (point to cars) is the future."

But longtime GOP fund-raiser Bob Grady, a managing director of the Carlyle Group, said that as an environmental adviser to Schwarzenegger he is convinced of the actor's credentials.

"I want a governor, someone who will fight oil drilling and ocean pollution, " he told the crowd. "Green Republicans have a new champion, and that man is Arnold Schwarzenegger."

But speaking later to reporters, the actor could provide few details about his hydrogen fuel program -- except to say that 95 percent of the money would come from the federal government.

Asked how he could boast of being an environmental advocate when he owns five Hummers, Schwarzenegger instead took credit for the vehicle's popularity.

"Eleven years ago, I took the military Hummer and I wanted to prove you could turn it into a civilian Hummer. . . . Now, as you know, it's the most popular SUV."

As to his new interest in hydrogen-fueled vehicles, Schwarzenegger said his advisers told him only four weeks ago about efforts to convert vehicles, including Hummers, from standard gasoline to hydrogen fuel.

"The things I've learned in this last month running for office have been spectacular," he said.


Schwarzenegger criticized Davis' environmental record, saying, "Gray Davis has just starting talking about the environment the last few days."

But asked about legislation Davis has signed, including a bill that made California the first state to ban greenhouse gases, Schwarzenegger responded "I'm not aware of all those bills he has signed."

And Davis' spokesman, Gabriel Sanchez, said Schwarzenegger's environmental platform, as posted on the Republican candidate's Web site, mirrors the governor's programs in such areas as reducing energy consumption and protecting parks and open space.

"If you look at his environmental plan, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," Sanchez said.
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RE: Arnold Says He's An Enviro - Gets Heckled

Tue Sep 23, 2003 1:20 am

Thanks for your valuable thoughts on this topic, Aaron. They were very enlightening.
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RE: Arnold Says He's An Enviro - Gets Heckled

Tue Sep 23, 2003 1:35 am

Well, Arnold is as much of an Enviro as Arianna Huffington. Between his stable of hummers and her McMansion they probably use enough energy to power Sacramento. Add to that all the hot air they both emanate and you got the suburbs too !

Tut tut. Tis a pity when folks you like behave so badly ! But seriously, can you imagine the Terminator driving a Toyota Priapus? It would look so wrong.
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RE: Arnold Says He's An Enviro - Gets Heckled

Tue Sep 23, 2003 1:38 am

Arianna Huffington cracks me up. This was the woman who on TV was protesting against SUV's until one of the audience members asked how she got here today: "I flew in on my jet." She's got like 9 mansions and what not.
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RE: Arnold Says He's An Enviro - Gets Heckled

Tue Sep 23, 2003 2:22 am

Great article Aaron747.
Arnold is fully of it and has contradicted himself so much. I wonder if he'll be able to star in any movies after he loses this election.
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RE: Arnold Says He's An Enviro - Gets Heckled

Tue Sep 23, 2003 5:38 am

What was Arnie thinking when he ran for this gig? Hasta la vista.

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