By Erin Sherbert
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Two days before assuming the governorship of California, freshly won in the recall election of Gray Davis, movie icon Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a lucrative deal with Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines, two bodybuilding publications that agreed to pay him 1 percent of their advertising revenue, or at least $1 million a year for five years, in exchange for a monthly column from Schwarzenegger. The governor acknowledged this relationship previously, but until the magazines filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month, the amount of money at stake (the deal could pay him as much as $8 million) was unknown. The price tag for Schwarzenegger's participation raised eyebrows because the governor had recently vetoed a bill that would have banned some controversial nutritional supplements from high schools. At first he brushed off the appearance of a conflict of interest, but, pressured by state Democrats, Schwarzenegger quickly announced he would sever his financial ties with the magazines, while still continuing to contribute a column. Although his aides and supporters maintain that the governor has done nothing wrong and that his relationship with supplements companies will not color his political decisions, his opponents are seizing on the episode as a chance to dispute Schwarzenegger's self-made image as a reformer without special-interest ties. Are you an apologist for Schwarzenegger? Take our quiz and find out!
1) The bill that Schwarzenegger vetoed was sponsored by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), and would have banned the sale of specific stimulants and steroid precursors to minors. Some of the substances are already prohibited by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and some are advertised in muscle magazines that were paying the governor. Schwarzenegger justified his veto by explaining that supplements "[are] something I have lived off and been taking all my life since I was 15 years old and [have] benefited me tremendously and doesn't cause any harm to anything." Speier's response: "I don't think he even read the bill." What's your opinion of the governor's veto?
A) It's a wonderful message for our youth, especially when one considers the age-old link between bodybuilding and a healthy self-image.
B) I think this officially makes Jackie Speier a girly man.
C) Well, of course he didn't readthe bill. The guy's saved the world enough times to know when something is inherently evil without reading about it.
2) The column that Schwarzenegger writes for Muscle & Fitness magazine is called "Ask Arnold," and it invites readers to write in with their bodybuilding-related questions for the former Mr. Universe. Is there anything you'd like to ask Arnold?
A) Sure. Who writes the column for you?
B) Do all muscle-magazine advice columns pay like this? That would be my question.
C) I'm sorry, not until I'm done reading last month's masterpiece, "Intensity Busters and Boosters."
3) Schwarzenegger told the Associated Press that his stance on dietary supplements has "nothing to do with my connection to a fitness magazine. It has to do with me, Arnold." What do you think he means by that?
A) Isn't it obvious? He has no idea what he's talking about.
B) I think the governor is simply explaining how he would never put his own self-interests above the people who elected him. (Bonus point for wondering if this might be a kick-ass "Ask Arnold" topic at some point down the road.)
C) Who cares? As long as he said it in that adorable German accent!
4) In the results of polls released in June, the governor's popularity rating had slid to its lowest-ever level, with 53 percent of voters saying they don't approve of the job he's doing, an 18- percentage-point jump since February. The poll's authors cited voters' uncertainty about a special November election that Schwarzenegger has planned to address state spending; the special election itself is estimated to cost between $45 million and $80 million. What's your take on Schwarzenegger's plan and performance?
A) Gosh, he doeslike special elections, doesn't he?
B) What's the big deal? Forty-five million dollars is like, what, six Hummers?
C) At least Arnold knows that no matter what happens to his popularity in politics, he's still box-office magic!
5) With his aides saying that Schwarzenegger wanted "the people to know he's focusing on governing," the governor also supposedly cut his financial ties with the Arnold Classic, an annual bodybuilding convention in Ohio paid for by nutritional companies. Although the governor won't receive profits directly, the money from that event will now be funneled into Schwarzenegger's Oak Productions, a change that the Center for Responsive Politics has decried as merely a bookkeeping ploy. What's your opinion?
A) You know, there's part of me that's beginning to wonder if maybe our governor is just a teensy-weensy bit too close to the supplement companies. But then I remembered that this was the guy we elected especially because he was too rich and independent to be taken in by corporate interest groups ....
B) But it's not the Arnold Classic without Arnold!
C) Look, we've got to trust Arnold when it comes to his financial decisions and investments. After all, he was one of the geniuses behind Planet Hollywood, and look how that turned out.