I’ve just returned from a 10-day trip to Los Angeles, and next to the palm trees and the chiles rellenos, my biggest treat was my daily drool over the full-color photo of the handsome, hunky, and impeccably tailored frame of Gov. Ahnuld in full color on the front page of the L.A. Times.  He’s so photogenic that he essentially erases whatever unlucky souls he’s photographed with–and does he look splendid in a snow-white dress-shirt!

It was a wonderful week for the new Republican gov, who, during his first month at the helm managed to terminate: a) recalled Gov. Gray Davis’ car tax hike, which would have pushed annual vehicle taxes up close to $1,000 for the average two-car household in California; b) driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants (yet another of Davis’s auto-related blunders); and c) a chunk of the state’s budget deficit by cracking a bond-issuance deal with legislative Democrats. Furthermore, in a splendid exercise of executive muscle-power, Schwarzenegger bypassed the state legislature to send $2.7 million to California localities to make up for the lost car-tax revenues. He’s also hired a team to strategize how to place such measures as workers’ compensation reform directly on voters’ ballots at election time, getting around lawmakers in thrall to the trial lawyers’ lobby (in California, on-the-job injuries include a raft of dubious but lawyer-lucrative psychic ailments).

The denial of drivers’ licenses to illegals provoked the usual Latino radicals to call for a general strike in protest on Friday, Dec. 12–but just about the only Californians to go along with the boycott were kids who ditched school in droves. Naturally, however, the usual whiners are predicting–that is, hoping– that Ahnuld will be hoisted by his own pecs. Los Angeles Times political pundit George Skelton complains today that Schwarzenegger is backed by “special interests” (who isn’t?) and wants to put “poor children…on a waiting list for health care.” When in trouble, play the kids card.