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In Salem, Arnold Schwarzenegger is still a star
By Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian February 18, 2010, 9:28PMSALEM -- After seven years of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Californians have had enough "hasta la vista, baby" jokes to last a lifetime. And the governor's approval ratings went in the tank as California's economy and public services foundered.
But the former movie star was in full celebrity mode Thursday as he stole the spotlight at the signing of the Klamath Basin agreement in the Oregon Capitol.
The packed crowd in the rotunda roared when Schwarzenegger talked about filming the 1990 movie "Kindergarten Cop" in Astoria and quipped that it was useful training because "in this business I'm in, I've got to be a good kindergarten cop."
Gov. Ted Kulongoski couldn't resist riffing on a few of Schwarzenegger's many iconic movie lines. "Governor, you do come back," said Kulongoski. "You came back time and time again to the negotiating table."
Joe Kirk, chairman of the Klamath Tribes, admitted: "I made an effort to try to portray being noble and stoic ... (but) Conan is here!"
The ceremony, which commits California, Oregon and the federal government to moving toward the removal of four Klamath River dams, was the kind of feel-good event you don't see that often in these days of acrimonious politics.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, watching the two governors hug, pronounced, "There is a Republican and a Democrat, but what you see is a vision." No doubt he'd like to see more of that back in D.C.
One Kulongoski aide, asked when the governor last had such a celebratory event during his time in office, immediately cracked: "Election Night 2006."
Schwarzenegger seemed to enjoy the fresh Oregon audience as he peppered his speech with movie-related one-liners. He promised that the parties to the agreement will spare no effort "to say 'hasta la vista' to the dams."
Winning the agreement, the former bodybuilder said, was "such a big lift that even I, who come from a lifting background, needed to ask for help."
And, he concluded, "I can see already the salmon fishes screaming, 'I'll be back.' "
Page Updated: Sunday February 21, 2010 03:55 AM Pacific
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