California Dreaming

California has long been a perplexing, unorthodox state when it comes to legislation. This comes partly from the structure of the government, and partly from the demography. The citizens make up the most ethnically diverse population in the country. They are obsessed with the latest in technology and fashion. And, in general, they seem to breathe in more than a few of the visionary vapors that emanate from Silicon Valley, the Napa Wine country, and Hollywood. But California takes its citizen-targeted initiatives very seriously, which gives the entire state an artificially fractious appearance to outsiders each time an election cycle rolls through.

After all, this is the place that began the wave of property tax rebellion over a decade ago, which rippled eastward across the country and changed the way school funding was viewed. California was the state that came within a mere sliver of a vote to legalize euthanasia laws after millions were spent on both sides of the issue. And of course, it famously recalled its luckless Governor Gray Davis and opened up its 2003 special election to a bevy of attention-seekers, including a curvaceous female stripper, a pornography publisher, and an action movie strongman with a world-famous Austrian accent.

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