No, I don't trust Arnold. Not as far as I could throw him, and I couldn't throw him at all. But I just stopped thinking of the guy as a joke, and here's why.
In Schwarzenegger's last State of the State address, he proposed a drastic change in the way California's congressional and state legislative districts are drawn. Instead of being drawn up by the state legislature itself - a cynical system that results in 80% of the seats in the House of Representatives being "safe" every election - Schwarzenegger proposes that a panel of three retired judges be given authority over the redistricting process. This could be very dangerous, or it could be the greatest opportunity for reform that we'll see in our lifetimes.
Yes, I know there are a million ways this could go horribly wrong. "Which three judges?" and "Before or after the next Census?" and all that. However -- I have long believed that a real reform of our gerrymandered congressional districts is the best thing that could happen to our government. Better than Electoral College reform. Better than un-Diebolidization and election reform. Nothing could do more to crack open the two-party system and cut the reins of "party discipline" on both sides of the aisle.
Might be a cruel hoax, might be a Trojan horse, might be sound-bite fodder and nothing else. But remember that California's (generally dysfunctional) system of ballot initiatives makes it possible to bypass the state legislature on questions like these. This means that, of all the states in the Union, California is where true reform might be forced past those legislators who benefit from the present corruption. And as California goes, so, often, goes America.
It will be up to our Democratic representatives in California to direct the course of this intriguing development. I'll be watching this issue closely.
"Gov. to Call for Special Session," LA Times
"Golden," The New Republic