And the nominees for Best Governor are..

CALIFORNIANS must have been really sick of governor Gray Davis. First they make him the first state governor for 82 years to have a special election called to boot him out

CALIFORNIANS must have been really sick of governor Gray Davis. First they make him the first state governor for 82 years to have a special election called to boot him out. Then they replace him with a self-confessed groper of women.

Mind you, this is the Hollywood state, the state which once put a B-movie matinee idol called Ronald Reagan into the governor's mansion. And the man they've handed the keys to this time is at least a genuine star.

Not a genuine politician – but then that, in these times of cynicism, was undoubtedly part of his appeal.

Arnie Schwarzenegger's first appearance as governor-elect was better than an Oscar acceptance speech.

The smile was Terminator-perfect, even if the powder-paint around the hairline was a little too visible in close-up. And the rhetoric was nicely applied: "I want to be the people's governor. I want to represent everybody. I believe in the people of California."

You could hardly stand on the stage of the Kodak Theatre and declare: "I want to be the people's best actor. I want to represent everybody. I believe in the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

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Then again, an Austrian former body-builder at his most convincing as a killer robot was never going to win a real Oscar. Like Reagan before him, he had to turn to politics to hear real applause.

If Arnie is ever to follow Reagan into the White House they will have to rewrite the rules barring foreigners from the top job. An odd rule, that, for a country built on immigration.

But Arnie could still raise the old Land of Opportunity idea: "I came here with absolutely nothing and California gave me absolutely everything. And today California has given me the greatest gift of all – you have given me your trust."

Good words. Harder to learn than "I'll be back", and probably less memorable, but a nice part anyway.

It will be interesting to see how Arnie's toughest role plays out when he starts having to deal with the economic and tax issues that brought down Davis.

A spiralling budget deficit is not the sort of difficulty action heroes usually have to face. Punching it – or ripping its blouse open – may not work, however manly (or robotly) you are about it.

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