Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Incredible Green Hulk

Who: VN Publisher/Editor in Chief Joseph Connelly + California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger
What: Commonwealth Club Lecture: Keeping California Cool
Where: The Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco
Why: To hobnob with former SF Mayor Willie Brown while witnessing live politics
When: September 26, 2008

The Scoop: I feel it's my duty to keep up with all things green, as it should be obvious by now that we're all on this planet together. When I was notified that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was delivering a lecture commemorating the second anniversary of my state's very progressive (at least when compared to the hot air coming out of DC) Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, aka AB 32, I decided to skip the VegNews staff lunch and travel to sunny downtown San Francisco to observe politics in action.

But first, since no Press Pass blurb would be complete without some food reference, I stopped in for a quick bowl of Won Ton Soup at the infamous Lucky Creation Vegetarian Restaurant in SF's Chinatown. Check out our previous Press Pass entry for more on Lucky Creation.

Chugging straight up the (Nob) hill, I arrived at The Fairmont where I was greeted by former SF Mayor Willie Brown who was impeccably dressed, and, of course, donned his trademark fedora. We said a quick "hello" as old buddies do before I picked up my press creds and headed into The Fairmont's Gold Room, aptly named for its great ornateness and gilded beauty.

The gilded interior of The Fairmont Hotel's Gold Room

The press was everywhere: An imposing bank of video and still cameras towered behind us print and electronic journalists. The Commonwealth Club, now 105 years old—almost as old as Willie Brown, according to the Gov—is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. It has hosted nearly every US president since Theodore Roosevelt, a fact not lost on the ever savvy Schwarzenegger, whom referred to fellow Republican TR as his "political idol" while referencing the former prez's 1911 Commonwealth Club lecture, which addressed environmental issues. Such progress we have made.

Arnold delivered a pointed and upbeat 19-minute speech, talking up the progressive agenda of AB 32, the "most ambitious global warming bill" in the nation and the first to impose mandatory caps on greenhouse gases. He took pot shots at the Bush administration ("Washington is asleep at the wheel; we can not look for leadership there" and "(We're) not waiting for the Federal government") as well as the Motor City ("Detroit, get off your butt!"), the latter a reference to Tesla Motors, a new luxury-car company setting up shop in San Jose, Calif., that will manufacture zero-emission electric vehicles exclusively. He also claimed he went to MoTown and encouraged GM to make the Hummer 3 a hydrogen-only vehicle, but they didn't listen. At least he tried. Finally, he foreshadowed his upcoming Governor's Global Climate Summit, to be held this November in "Callifornya." No word whether the governor from the great state of Alaska will attend. If not, surely Tina Fey can stand in.

And not to disappoint the star-gazers, the Gov magically worked into his remarks his two most famous lines, "Hasta La Vista, Baby" and "I'll Be Back." Pure coincidence, I'm sure. A good time was had by all.

The Governator in action

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