California to Meathead: Stifle Yourself


Like a lifetime achievement Oscar, the self-destruction of Rob Reiner is a reward you always knew you'd get if you just stuck around long enough. The artist formerly known as Mike Stivic is under pressure to resign his chairmanship of California's First 5 Commission following news that the commission used $23 million in public funds to campaign for Propostion 82, a universal-preschool tax that will be on the ballot in June. Democratic state Senate majority leader Gloria Romero says Reiner's commission "crossed the line," while Republican state Senator Dave Cox, dismissing Reiner's argument that he recused himself from the actual decision to spend money on Prop 82 (as he was working on Prop 82 itself), says Reiner must resign, and has asked Governor Schwarzenegger to replace him if he doesn't go willingly. The state legislature will audit First 5's books within the next few months.

Reiner claims he didn't know anything about the $23 million TV commercials, and in a raucous press conference yesterday, defended himself on several fronts: that he had recused himself from the campaign finance decision, that the $23 million ad campaign was legal, and that anyway he's going to be wasting at least this much money on Rumor Has It 2, so what's the big deal? Reason, which over the years has given Reiner more raspberries than Archie Bunker ever managed to do, has some answers: Before Prop 82 made it onto the ballot, Lisa Snell and Shikha Dalmia pointed out that an almost identical program has had devastating effects in the province of Quebec. Jacob Sullum tagged Reiner for opposing rival cigarette-tax measures that might threaten his dubious early-learning proposals. I marveled at the Hollywood triple threat's transformation from a public scold into a powerful political player (which is at the heart of his present troubles). And back in Old '98, Jacob ashed out Meathead's original plan to tax smokers for early child education.

Special bonus: HuffPost readers heckle Reiner mercilessly.