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Posts Tagged ‘Goldman Sachs’



Gov Race to Bottom, Scotus Gay Watch, Press Clips

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Steve Poizner, pouring another $2.5 million into his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor, unloads another new ad on eMeg Whitman today, this one attacking her for failing to vote for nearly three decades.

“For 28 years, Meg Whitman didn’t vote. Not once,” the ad says. “She didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan, George Bush, or Pete Wilson, for 28 years. Meg Whitman says she’s for Prop. 13, but over 100 times she could have voted against higher taxes and more spending, and she didn’t vote.”

Here’s what The Commish is up to (after spending about $22 million of his own money): a two-track negative campaign against Whitman.

Track One is ideological – the Tom McClintock and immigration ads, hammering Whitman for being too “liberal.”

Track Two is a character attack – the “Vulture” ad on Goldman Sachs and now an ad about how she wasn’t even a voter for most of her adult life.

Poizner’s message: Not only is Whitman bad on the issues but she’s a bad person.

None of which tells voters why they should vote for Poizner. And, of course, Whitman’s got plenty of hits on him on the air (especially after sticking another $5 million into the race, bringing her total to a staggering $64 million).

In fact, her latest, charging that he “supported partial birth abortion” manages to hammer Poizner on two tracks at once: not only is he too liberal, but he’s wicked to boot.

It’s a race to the bottom, sports fans.

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay: This whole Elena Kagan is-she-or-isn’t-she thing was giving us a big headache –  even before the Wall Street Journal suggested on the front page Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee  might be a switch hitter.

To recap: CBS News embarrassed itself big time last month, when its web site blithely ran a piece from Ben Domenech, a discredited, third-rate conservative blogger, declaring that Solicitor General Kagan would be the first gay justice were she appointed and confirmed. CBS pulled the post down, after the White House objected that the claim was a lie and Giant of Journalism Domenech acknowledged that he was only, you know, speculating about whether she was gay.

The issue disappeared briefly, then resurfaced when the president actually nominated Kagan this week. Ever since, there has been a rash of stories on the subject.

One of the stranger is Politico’s round-up of Friends of Elena to swear that she’s not gay; that one of these FOEs is Eliot Spitzer, the sex-crazed former New York governor, who rather mysteriously testified that “I did not go out with her, but other guys did…I don’t think it is my place to say more,” only added to our head scratching over the piece.

Now comes the Wall Street Journal, channeling the New York Post, its sister Murdoch paper, to run a big ole two column, page one photo of Kagan playing softball back in the day, which  photo promptly led some gay rights leaders to complain that the Journal’s Innuendo Editor was trying to signal, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, that Kagan is a lesbian because, after all, what other kind of woman would play softball, all of which led to much  brow furrowing and wool gathering from the big brains over at the Columbia Journalism Review.

Hence our aforementioned headache, arising from the fact that not a single one of these yarns raises the key questions: 1) Why is everyone from Obama to Happy Hooker Friend Spitzer acting like it would be some terrible scandal if Kagan were gay and 2) who the hell cares anyway?

The narrative line hasn’t been a total loss for us though: MLB.com’s Mark Newman did a terrific piece in which he asked a bunch of Mets and Nats players to analyze Kagan’s batting stance. Lots of thoughtful clubhouse debate about whether the bat’s too far from the hitting zone, but for our money Nationals closer Matt Capps offered the most trenchant comment:

It looks like she’s choking up there and she’s locked down, so it looks like she’s going to give you an aggressive fight — which is probably a good thing in the position she’s going to be in.

Press Clips: Must read of the week is LA Timesmen Evan Halper and Jack Dolan’s defining piece on eMeg’s business and financial dealings…We  don’t always agree with Robert Cruickshank’s political analysis, but it’s for sure the Oracle is a very smart fella and serious guy who works hard at making sense of where California is and where it’s going…After reading Connie Brucker’s New Yorker profile of Haim Saban, we finally understood why  the   L.A. Media tycoon is throwing millions at the effort to roll back reapportionment reform in California, the better to protect West Side reps Henry Waxman and Howard Berman…The Zev Chafets takeout on San Antonio mayor Julian Castro is a wonderfully told tale of the most important Latino pol we’d never heard of.

I’m sorry sir, but your AK-47 has to go in the overhead: The silliest issue of the entire campaign season is the loud objection of GOP wannabe Senator Carly Fiorina to restricting gun sales to people on the anti-terror fly list because it would infringe on their Second Amendment rights, as Joe Mathews makes perfectly clear here.

GOP Issues: McClintock, Border, Si; Goldman, Huh?

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Steve Poizner, who had already hit Meg Whitman with a two-punch TV combo – starring Tom McClintock and Goldman Sachs – on Sunday followed with a new right cross on immigration, while Whitman tries to defend with an immigration radio spot of her own, starring former Gov. Pete Wilson.

The fight – which Poizner takes today to the pedestrian bridge at San Ysidro — is all about winning over the most conservative Republican voters who have, according to various pollsters, begun moving toward Poizner over Whitman in the race of the GOP nomination for governor.

In their zeal to appeal to the xenophobic instincts of the right wing, it’s unclear whether either candidate has left open even a shred of possibility of winning Latino votes in the general election. But that’s clearly a secondary concern to the GOP candidates as they drift ever further toward nativism in hopes of proving their anti-illegal-immigrant credentials to conservative Republicans.

Poizner’s new ad lumps Whitman with President Obama in supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants and opposing Arizona’s “papers please” immigration law and concludes, “If you care about stopping illegal immigration, Steve Poizner is the only choice.”

Whitman’s anticipatory response on radio has Wilson – who was known on the streets of Mexico for his anti-immigrant policies as “hijo de puta” – assuring voters: “Meg will be tough as nails on illegal immigration. She’ll fight to secure our border and go after sanctuary cities.”

What Hath Goldman Wrought?

In looking at what’s moving Republican voters, Calbuzz can only intuit from scant data publicly available right now. We get why Poizner’s endorsement by U.S. Rep. McClintock – a right-wing rock star in California, Prince of the Palinistas, Toast of the Tea Party – helps him among knuckle-dragging voters.

And we understand why the immigration issue appeals to conservatives.

But while we can see how Goldman Sachs hurts Whitman among independents and Democrats,  we wonder how it can help Poizner with conservative Republicans? Does it?

We know that in the March LA Times/USC survey, while Whitman was beating Poizner 60-20%, the margin was closer – 53-26% among Republicans with incomes under $50,000.

We also know that in the March Field Poll, where Whitman led Poizner 63-14% overall, the spread was 50-26% among Republicans with incomes of $40,000-60,000.

Private polling we’ve seen recently had Whitman with a mere 6-point lead, with Poizner slightly ahead among the most conservative Republicans.

While the McClintock endorsement ad was clearly a big factor in that movement, does it make any sense that some Republicans are moved by Goldman Sachs as well?

“The most conservative Republicans are populist, not establishment,” said GOP ad man Don Sipple. “They don’t care for Wall Street. They’re not the wealthiest Republicans. And it becomes about character, which is a universal thing. They either respect someone or they don’t.”

There’s been an historic division in the GOP between the Country Club Republicans and what were once known as the Chapel Republicans. This may be evolving to the Tea Party Republicans, the Sarah Palin People, the Limbaugh/Beck/O’Reilly Publicans – pick your moniker. On the one hand you got your Donald Brens and George Schultzes and on the other hand you got your Tom McClintocks and Chuck DeVores.

They’re all Republicans, but they’re not the same animal. Poizner and Whitman both come from the Country Club wing of the party, but Poizner has been most ferocious is throwing off his Brooks Brothers baggage.

Sure, he’s a multi-millionarie who was up to his eyeballs in investment banking opportunities and silk-stocking Wall Street deals. But it’s Whitman who was on the board at Goldman, who had those sweetheart IPO deals,  who’s parked her cash in vulture funds. So if Poizner can whip up a little internal GOP class resentment – what the hell. All’s fair, right?

Ballot Label Change You Can Believe In

But lest we make too much of whether and how Goldman Sachs moves those down-scale Republicans, let’s remember one important but overlooked factoid: Some time between the last set of public polls, Poizner’s ballot designation changed.

In the Field, PPIC and USC/LA Times polls, Poizner was identified as “California State Insurance Commissioner” – something Poizner has never pushed in his advertising. But his ballot designation – which is how he is now being tested by those pollsters who use the actual ballot label – has been changed to “Businessman.”

It may well be that some significant portion of Poizner’s polling troubles was a function of conservative voters who don’t want no stinking insurance commissioner for nothin’. But a businessman – now that’s a guy you can get behind.

Team eMeg: Dem Ad is a Plot to Pick a GOP Loser

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Meg Whitman’s campaign pushed back on a new $800K Democratic TV attack buy Friday, charging that the state party’s new ad is a cynical,  underhanded, union-financed effort to help Steve Poizner win the Republican nomination for governor.

And anyway, they insisted, it’s not an effective spot. All righty then: the food’s awful and the portions are too small.

Twelve hours after Calbuzz first reported that Jerry Brown’s campaign and the CDP had collaborated on the new hit, whacking eMeg as a sleazy Wall Street insider,  two of her strategists launched a two-track counter-attack on the effort:

They said it was not only “proof positive that the unions are trying to influence the Republican primary,” because they fear Whitman’s campaign promises to dump 40,000 state workers and cut public employee pension benefits, but also evidence that Poizner is a useful idiot who is the Democrat’s “clearly preferred candidate…. (because) they know he’s unelectable and they can beat him.”

Whitman communications director Tucker Bounds and senior adviser Rob Stutzman told political writers that their information, based on checks with TV stations around the state, was that the Dems were spending $800,000 on a buy that would run at least over the next four days.  Tenoch Flores, the CDP’s communications director, said the buy was “over $800,000” and would run for five days; the spot, among other things, hits eMeg for evading taxes through “an offshore shell game.”

On one level, the new CDP ad — authoritatively narrated by Peter Coyote — seeks support for legislation sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich) that aims to recover an estimated $100 billion in tax revenues lost by the United States each year as a result of corporations and citizens who dodge taxes by holding funds in offshore accounts in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. But that’s just in the last six seconds of a 30-second commercial. The first 24 seconds are used to attack eMeg, mostly for her connections to Goldman Sachs.

So any fair minded person viewing this ad would see it as an assault on Whitman, who is Exhibit A for “wealthy Wall Street insiders.” Calbuzz wanted to discuss the strategic political purpose of the ad, so we rang up CDP Chairman John Burton. He insisted the purpose of the ad is to support Levin’s anti-tax haven legislation (as if this were the No. 1 priority for the California Democratic Party).  When we said we were hoping to have an honest discussion about the political strategy of the ad, Burton exploded: “Are you calling me a liar? Fuck you!” And he hung up the phone. Hey Burton! Thanks for nothing, you jackass.

Brown’s spokesman Sterling Clifford (or Clifford Sterling, as our Department of Dyslexic Proper Names knows him) dismissed the notion that the Democrats want to help Poizner at Whitman’s expense. “The Republican party has two candidates who have rushed to embrace the extreme wing of their party,” he said. “Whichever one eventually gets the Republican nomination, we’re confident the people of California will choose Jerry Brown in November.”

BTW: Calbuzz predicts the CDP’s initial air time buy is just rope-a-dope (trying to avoid a Whitman counter assault) and that they’ll keep up the buy for a few more weeks.

What it all means: Poizner’s camp, basking in a momentum shift in the GOP race, dismissed the Whitman spin with its own, disdainful spin: “The Whitman Campaign has become a very expensive Humpty Dumpty,” said communications director Jarrod Agen, “and all of the Goldman Sachs money and all the hacks in Sacramento can’t put Meg’s campaign back together again.”

In a week when the Republican campaign was finally joined, after months in which Her Megness had the field to herself, the latest three-way exchange  makes clear that Whitman:

1-Will be forced to fight a two-front war over the next four weeks.

She’s now being whipsawed in an intriguing political dynamic, getting whacked from the right and left simultaneously on the very same issue – her close ties to Goldman Sachs.

Whistling past the graveyard, Bounds and Stutzman insisted that the Goldman-Sachs attack line is “not terribly effective” – while taking pains to point out Poizner’s own ties to the scandal-tainted investment bank (which Calbuzz reported on earlier this week), challenging reporters to put “sunlight on his investments” and point out his “hypocritical” stance on the issue.

No one has yet challenged the validity of the  extremely scientific Calbuzz calculation that Whitman scores 80% on the Goldman Sachs Taint of Scandal chart compared to just 15%  GSTS for Poizner and 5% for Brown.

2-Has lost control of the campaign narrative.

After months of stiffing the press – when a Wall Street Journal reporter asked eMeg a few months ago about her aversion to reporters, she answered that Some of these newspapers, as you know better than I, will not be around in the near termTeam Whitman has now convened two conference calls in three days in an effort to shape reporters’ stories, an attempt to redirect the emerging campaign meme that her once-big lead was based on soft support that’s quickly eroding.

3-Is being pushed hard to the right.

For much of the campaign to date, Whitman has been trying to position herself for a general election race. But with Poizner pressuring her hard on issues like immigration and his sweeping tax cut proposal, Bounds acknowledged Friday that eMeg will be more aggressive in efforts to portray her GOP rival as a demon sheep liberal and herself as “truly the most conservative candidate.” (HT to Steve Harmon of the Coco Times for raising the issue.) The negative comparative is  the point of her new spot ripping Poizner as a Prop. 13 supporter out to harm senior citizens.

Final word to Bounds: “There is plenty of evidence to suggest that…(Poizner)  is part of the Sacramento problem.”  Watch for more of this.

Press clip: Belated kudos to John Myers of KQED radio, who did a superb job of moderating the eMeg-Poizner smackdown the other night at San Jose’s Tech Museum.

Myers was firm but not overbearing in keeping control of the event throughout, did nice work in following up and forcing answers to questions from the panel the candidates ignored  – especially when he pressed eMeg to say whether  she did anything wrong on stock spinning (surprise, surprise, she said she didn’t) and tossed a gotcha question that put both candidates in Bambi-in-the-headlights mode. All this, plus he had the best tailored suit and crispest tie knot on the stage.

Just because: The slide show with this NYT piece is a riot.

New Dem Party/Brown Whack at eMeg on Goldman

Friday, May 7th, 2010

The California Democratic Party, coordinating with Jerry Brown’s campaign for governor, is expected today to launch an attack on Republican front-runner Meg Whitman in the form of an “issues” ad calling on Congress to “stop special favors for wealthy Wall Street insiders,” sources told Calbuzz on Thursday.

The assault — which the Brown campaign would not confirm — comes as private polling by Republican Steve Poizner, by Whitman and various other candidates and initiative campaigns shows the Republican race for governor now within 10 points, with Poizner closing fast.

The CDP/Brown effort is aimed at weakening Whitman even further, especially among independent voters who will be crucial in the general election. If, as a side benefit, the ad campaign also erodes Whitman’s standing in the GOP primary, so much the better, sources said.

Whitman is struggling to douse the fires rising from attention focused on the fact that Goldman Sachs gave her access to initial public stock offerings that she “spun” or resold for personal profit while she was CEO at eBay. Goldman Sachs got eBay’s investment banking business and Whitman was, for a time, also a member of Goldman’s board.

The practice of “spinning” was legal at the time, but was outlawed shortly after a Congressional investigation and about the same time Whitman resigned from the Goldman board and returned $1.78 million in profits to settle an eBay shareholder lawsuit.

Calbuzz has not seen the CDP/Brown ad itself, but it has been described by media industry sources. According to them, the ad notes that a judge called Whitman’s spinning an “obvious conflict of interest,” that she was “forced” to return her profits and that she has “secretive offshore accounts, managed by Goldman Sachs, used by the rich to avoid taxes.”

In the same way the California Chamber of Commerce briefly used an “issues ad” to attack Brown, the CDP and Brown are using an “issues ad” to attack Whitman. The difference is that the Chamber is officially a non-partisan organization and the California Democratic Party and the Brown campaign are anything but non-partisan.

Official state parties may legally coordinate activity with candidates for partisan office which is apparently the framework in which this ad campaign is crafted. How much money the CDP will put behind the ad — money that was likely raised by Brown — is yet unclear. But the initial buy is expected to be about $1 million.

And Other Lies: The biggest canard in Governor Arnold’s dishonest crock of a disingenuous argument for scheduling the special election for Abel Maldonado’s former senate seat in the middle of summer is the purported need to have all legislative hands on deck to vote on a new state budget.

“We think it’s important to have a full complement of senators as soon as possible,” said Schwarzmuscle mouthpiece Aaron McLear said.

Puh-leeze.

Putting aside the fact that the $20 billion red ink budget will probably get voted on closer to Christmas, the clear-eyed Timm Herdt makes the very excellent point that if 15th SD front-runner Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee wins – an outcome Schwarzenegger is clearly trying to guarantee by setting the special for August 17 – there’ll be an open Assembly seat awaiting yet another special election, by which time the mendacious McLear will be well into his next million or so deceits.

Besides his little hissy fit of spite over the Dems taking their time to confirm Maldo as Lite Guv, there’s one and only reason that Conan set the date when he did – because the senate Republican leaders leaned on him to put his thumb on the scale so Democratic front-runner and former Assemblyman John Laird doesn’t capture the seat and put them on the brink of the two-thirds majority needed for budget votes.

The merits of consolidating the run-off vote with the Nov. 2 statewide are clear and overwhelming: sparing Central Coast counties the $2.5 million price tag of indulging Arnold’s whim, boosting voter awareness and turnout in the sprawling district, ensuring that military voters stationed overseas are full enfranchised – a matter that is resonating even with conservatives – as well as a batch of voting rights issue raised by newly-filed litigation that Schwarzenegger’s triggered with his partisan action.

Bottom line to Laird: “I think it was a political play, the Senate Republican leadership attempting to advantage themselves in the special election.” And what motivated Schwarzmuscle? “He was responding to the Senate Republican leadership in advance of the budget,” said Laird.

What hath Sarah wrought: While Sarah Palin’s Facebook endorsement of Carly Fiorina in the Republican Senate race offers iCarly a nice boost in the primary, the political backing of the Thrilla from Wasilla will reek like stinking fish by the time the general election comes around, should the Hurricane win the GOP nomination.

There’s not a lot of hard data available about how Californians view Palin, but polling from her stint as the 2008 veep candidate makes it clear what a polarizing figure she was even back when she was still a borderline wing nut, before she crossed the border and became a total whack job. Shortly after the Republican National Convention where she made her national political debut, the Field Poll found Palin’s favorable to unfavorable rating among Californians stood at 43-43; less than two months later her image stood at 37-53 favorable-unfavorable.

The big shift came among independents: In the first weeks after Palin’s launch, they viewed her somewhat unfavorably, 36-45; by the time they’d been more fully exposed to her charms, shortly before the election, DTSs had a 20-65 unfavorable view of her, a 36 point swing. All this, of course, before Palin resigned as governor of Alaska and evolved into a full time media bore.

Even California Republicans became slightly less enamored over time: they viewed her favorably 81-12 during the September survey and 74-19 in October, a net decline of 13 points.

Still her seal of approval is a big deal for Fiorina in the right-wing dominated primary, and even more of one, in an opposite way, for Orange County Assemblyman Chuck Devore, the true Tea Partier in the race, whose supporters took to Palin’s Facebook page to complain about her endorsement of Fiorina.

As for front-runner Tom Campbell, we have a feeling Palin’s gratuitous dis of Dudley – “a liberal member of the GOP who seems to bear almost no difference to Boxer, one of the most left-wing members of the Senate” – will find its way onto the air in the next four weeks.

Upadate 6:40 am: At 10:09 pm Thursday the Whitman campaign sent out the following statement: “This is a clear effort by the California Democratic Party and labor unions to defeat Meg Whitman, because she is the only fiscal conservative in the race who will reform the failed pension system and solve the fiscal crisis in Sacramento. The California Democratic Party, the public employee unions, and Steve Poizner have struck an alliance to defeat Meg’s effort to disrupt the status quo in Sacramento.”

Measuring Goldman Taint; More on Arnold Flip Flop

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Alert readers might have noted that Calbuzz has, in recent weeks, paid a lot of attention to billionaire Meg Whitman’s links to Goldman Sachs.  They may also have gleaned that we kinda, sorta think that the stock spinning made possible by Goldman when eMeg was CEO of eBay, was, well, pretty darn unethical.

So when Steve Poizner pounced on eMeg’s Goldman taint, we gave The Commish a pretty good ride. But let’s be honest: Poizner’s not some poor schmo with a tin cup begging for nickels so he can run for governor. A zillionaire himself, he is certainly no Goldman Virgin.

In fact, back in 2004 when he was running for the Assembly, (as a Republican, btw when eMeg wasn’t even a registered voter, let alone a Republican – but we digress)* Poizner got himself a $500,000 loan on VERY favorable, preferential, best-customer terms (the federal funds rate + 60 basis points ) from Goldman Sachs. He repaid the loan about six months later, but he got use of the money at practically no cost – terms he was afforded because the loan was backed by his personal assets in a Goldman brokerage account (as noted in his 12/03 FPPC Form 700).

The whole loan and other complex Poizner/Goldman details are spelled out over at Whitman’s favorite conservative blog (at least she pays them huge amounts for her ads over there) Red County. The loan has also been noted here, here, here and here. Point being, the Whitman folks have shopped this one around, trying to suggest, “Hey, Poizner’s got just as much of a problem with Goldman Sachs as Meg does.”

But an exclusive Calbuzz analysis of the Goldman Sachs Taint of Scandal accruing to each of the candidates for governor – let’s not forget Attorney General Jerry Brown’s sister works there and the city where he was mayor had a credit deal with Goldman – demonstrates that the GSTS Factor for Whitman is 80%, compared to 15% for Poizner and 5% for Brown. (See chart above)

Bottom line: This is how smart, New Media Age guys and news gatherers avoid falling prey to the dreaded False Equivalence Syndrome – by scientifically analyzing the metrics and measurables of any given scandal – taking into account, of course, a margin or error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Terminator terminates T-Ridge: Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s stunning, 180-degree flip flop on offshore drilling near Santa Barbara astonished us for many reasons – not least of which was the utter lack of political grace he displayed towards his erstwhile environmental allies, whom he totally hung out to dry.

“Arnold loves to do that – it’s part of his control issues,” said former Assembly member and T-Ridge environmental  booster Hannah Beth Jackson. “Consistency and rationality have never bothered him in the least.”

In delivering a sudden and unexpected coup de grace to the fiercely debated Tranquillon Ridge project on Monday, Arnold totally blindsided the embattled coalition of Santa Barbara environmental activists who had put reputations, credibility and personal friendships on the line in fighting for the plan for the last two years.

Having appropriated for his own purposes a complex legal agreement over leasing arrangements that Santa Barbara’s Environmental Defense Center had reached with the Houston-based PXP oil company, Schwarzenegger couldn’t be bothered giving the enviros a heads-up before airily dismissing the painstakingly negotiated deal as if he were dispatching a fly, during the course of a press conference he’d called on an entirely different issue.

“We had absolutely no idea this was coming,” said Linda Krop, general counsel for the EDC, who spent nearly three years working on the PXP agreement, and who’d been enlisted by Schwarzenegger’s Department of Finance in his own, budget driven efforts to gain approval for it. “We were completely surprised.”

Krop only learned that Schwarzenegger had switched his position more than an hour after his press conference, when reporters started to call. The architect of the EDC-PXP deal,  she has long argued that giving the company  a short-term lease to drill into state waters, from a platform it already operates in federal waters, is a worthwhile trade off for its promise to end permanently most of its federally leased drilling in the region.

Whatever you think, as a policy matter, of the agreement she crafted – and environmentalist opinion was bitterly polarized on the issue – Krop is a smart, determined and passionate coastal protection advocate who’s paid her dues and deserves better than being dissed by a muscle-bound, metrosexual movie actor without a principled bone in his sagging body.

Whaddya mean you work for me? Of course, enviros don’t seem to be the only ones who failed to see Schwarzenegger’s switcheroo coming.

Last Saturday, Chronicler Marisa Lagos did a good piece probing whether the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe had triggered any rethinking within the Administration about its full-square support of the T-Ridge project. No effin’ way, one of Conan’s army of mouthpieces insisted to her:

As oil spewed Friday from a blown out well in the Gulf of Mexico and spread into Louisiana’s sensitive wetlands and rich fishing grounds, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration defended a plan to allow new drilling off California’s Central Coast.

A spokesman for Schwarzenegger said the proposed Tranquillon Ridge project off Santa Barbara County is attractive because the oil company behind the project has agreed to end drilling off the coast in exchange for a permit to do so for the next 14 years…

“This doesn’t really change anything, because we’re looking at a platform that’s already in operation,” said Jeff Macedo, the governor’s spokesman. “If anything this makes the T-Ridge project that much more important, because it would put a sunset date on when it shuts down.”

Oh, never mind.

Two days later, Schwarzenegger stood before reporters and sounded exactly the opposite opinion.

Without the simple courtesy of telling someone to pick up the phone and let the pro-T-Ridge environmentalists know what he was about to do, Arnold instantly and categorically rejected the entire environmental argument in favor of the project.

He not only turned his back on his previously stated certainty that the PXP deal, by aiming to close out currently open-ended federal offshore leases, would actually make an oil spill near Santa Barbara less likely; he also shrugged off the importance of the $100 million the project would have brought to the state annually – after more than a year of thundering about the crucial importance of that money to California’s fiscal condition.

Not surprisingly, he said he changed his mind after watching TV.

* correction