By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010 – 12:06 am

Arnold Schwarzenegger dished out make-believe mayhem during his action movie hero days, but he must be a closet masochist.

Why else would he say, as he often does, that he’d love to remain governor of California? He’s already one of the most unpopular governors in state history, and he’s leaving behind an economy that’s erased more than a million jobs and a state budget deficit that’s worse than the one he inherited seven years ago.

A rational man would jet to his ski lodge in Sun Valley and return to Sacramento just in time to hand the mess to successor Jerry Brown.

Instead, Schwarzenegger is spending his last weeks in office in legacy mode, attempting – or so it would seem – to convince Californians that his roller coaster governorship has been a success, even though three-fourths of them consider it to be a failure.

“I’m going to run to the finish line,” Schwarzenegger said Monday during a news conference on the steps of the state Capitol that was, if anything, a celebration of failure.

The odd ceremony ostensibly was held to praise local governments around the state for enacting bans on “single use” plastic bags that are commonly used for groceries and other consumer goods. About 20 billion of them are handed out each year in California, and environmentalists say most wind up in trash cans, in waterways or as what some call “urban tumbleweeds.”

Actually, however, Schwarzenegger and other attendees lamented that the Legislature refused this year to pass a statewide ban on plastic bags that even the grocery industry prefers to a patchwork of local ordinances. The measure, Assembly Bill 1998, made it through the Assembly but failed by a wide margin to gain Senate approval even though Democratic legislative leaders pushed it hard.

It was the latest in a series of events Schwarzenegger has been staging throughout the state to remind everyone that he’s been an ardent champion of political reform and environmental causes. He hopes, it would appear, that his record on global warming, redistricting and other issues will overshadow his abject failure to redeem his 2003 promise to end “crazy deficit spending” or his later pledge to “blow up the boxes” of state government.

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