The Mean Green Machine; Arnold Is Back, with a Lime-Colored Bus and the Hots for the 'Hydrogen Highway.' Can He Ride It All the Way to Re-Election?
Breslau, Karen, Newsweek
Byline: Karen Breslau
He's put the hummers in storage. He's told friends he was deeply impressed by Al Gore's new global-warming movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." And as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hit the campaign trail last week, he had a new look: a bright green bus emblazoned with a mural of Yosemite National Park. At Schwarzenegger's first stop, near Redding, Calif., along the banks of the picturesque Sacramento River, a woman asked him what he'd do about high gas prices. Schwarzenegger promised to go after price-gouging oil companies, then launched passionately into his plan to build a "Hydrogen Highway" and to impose strict limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, making California a model for the nation. "You have to have a vision of a clean California," he said. "And then go out and build it."
Schwarzenegger talked about environmental issues in his maiden political voyage three years ago, but not like this; in 2006 he's made it a centerpiece of his re-election campaign. For a Republican on the ballot in an anti-Bush season, maybe it is smarter to run green than Red. "You don't see that bus saying, vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger, republican," the governor told NEWSWEEK. Discontent over the Iraq war, rising gas prices and illegal immigration have left President George W. Bush with a 28 percent approval rating in the latest California Field Poll. And last week, even though Republicans spent $5 million on the race, GOP candidate Brian Bilbray only narrowly won the House seat vacated by former congressman Randy (Duke) Cunningham, now imprisoned for bribery--pulling ahead after he slammed Bush's plans for immigration reform.
Even though he hired a team of Bush consultants to run his re-election campaign, Schwarzenegger doesn't hesitate to hit Bush, either. (He called Bush's plan to send National Guard troops to the Mexican border "half-baked.") As Schwarzenegger enjoys a resurgence in his own poor ratings, he's done some of his strongest Bush-bashing on the environment. "We cannot wait for the United States government to get its act together on the environmental issue," Schwarzenegger told NEWSWEEK. "We have to create our own leadership."
In California, where 87 percent of voters say that environmental issues matter in choosing a candidate, that's a smart course. "We're about bringing people together," Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, said. …