State of Embarrassment — California

How a budget deficit, credit crisis and the Governator affect the citizen embarrassment level in California.
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You've Probably Heard About: The budget crisis. The world’s eighth-largest economy has been battered by the recent recession and not helped by a gridlocked state Legislature that faces a $20 billion budget deficit and more than $80 billion in long-term debt. Already billions have been cut from schools, and years of restrictive ballot initiatives make life even more difficult for legislators. Also, Arnold is in charge.

But Did You Know: California’s debt is the lowest-rated among U.S. states, on par with Borat’s home nation of Kazakhstan; Standard & Poor’s rates the Golden State’s bonds only four notches above “junk” status. (Or roughly equivalent to most of what comes out of Hollywood these days.)

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They Said It: “You see what is happening in Greece, you see what is happening in Ireland, you see what is happening in Spain now…. We are left with nothing but tough choices.” — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose approval rating reached an all-time low of 23 percent this spring (the same number former Gov. Gray Davis had before being “totally recalled”).

The Silver Lining: Greece, Ireland and Spain are all beautiful countries. Really. And any scenario that sees an old guy nicknamed “Moonbeam” swooping in to save the day is worthy of a blockbuster script.

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Citizen Embarrassment Level: Deeply chagrined; midlife crises were supposed to be fun. After all, in the movies, they never show someone actually paying for a Porsche.

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