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Monday, July 22, 2002

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I wish I had some talent as a sketch artist. I'd like to draw a political cartoon of Gray Davis and Bill Simon as two gunslingers, facing off against each other for the climactic showdown, trying to see which one can manage to shoot his own feet off first.

The Sacramento Bee reported today that Bill Simon has finally agreed to let reporters take a peek at his income tax returns. Sort of. A few selected reporters could take all of two hours to review 11 years worth of returns. But not make copies or take photos or even make notes to themselves on tape recorders or computers.

This is supposed to prove Simon has nothing to hide? This is supposed to end the attacks by Davis, or end the demands of the media for full disclosure? What kind of idiot on Simon's campaign staff dreams up this stuff? And if it's Simon himself, what kind of idiot continues working for him? (That last question is rhetorical -- as long as Simon keeps writing the checks, campaign consultants will happily continue working for him.)

Was Simon really so naive as to think he could run for Governor of California without having to release his tax returns? Now he has achieved the worst of all possible worlds: He suffered months of political flack for his stonewalling. And it was all for nought since he finally caved. Except he's still fudging on access, so it actually looks worse politically than an absolute refusal or a full release.

There is one other possible explanation. Maybe he really didn't think he'd have to release his tax returns because Simon never expected to win the California primary. Perhaps he was merely building contacts and name recognition to position himself for a future campaign. But then Davis went and put in his two cents (so to speak), and Riordan self-destructed, and to everyone's astonishment Simon suddenly emerged as the nominee. Life imitated art, and like Robert Redford in The Candidate, it was a case of "what do I do now"?

Maybe Simon will figure out the answer before November 5th. Or maybe not.








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