A Political Aptitude Test

Requiring the governor to pass California’s high school exit exam or forfeit his job – as proposed by Sen. Dean Florez a Shafter Democrat — is a good first step. 

The measure very generously allows the governor to take the test as many times as necessary in whatever language he chooses within a year of when Senate Resolution 28 is approved by the upper house.  

No doubt only one time will be sufficient for the governor to pass. 

Other than the very troubling – although unlikely — possibility of California being headed by the lieutenant governor, Florez is onto something solid here. 

Passing the test should also be a prerequisite to California’s 120 lawmakers and other constitutional officers, including the Superintendent of Public Instruction, taking office — if only to have some modest understanding of what is being taught in public high schools and the state’s expectation of pupil success. 

And there should be another test for lawmakers and statewide office-holders that gauges their grasp of the unique skills required of politicians. Yes, in politics some assembly is required although doing so may pose a choking hazard for well-adjusted persons. 

A Primer for Politicians, for instance, would not ask how to figure out the volume of a cylinder, but rather would focus on politically applicable questions: 

How many lobbyists do you have to stack end-to-end to fill the Capitol rotunda? 


How many pledges of assistance in return for campaign contributions does it take to make a felony? 

A real political aptitude test would have multiple choices since that is what politics and policy is, at their core: choices.



  1. In the state Assembly, a poorly conceived bill should be:
    1. Terminated with extreme prejudice
    2. The subject of numerous press conferences touting its importance.
    3. Dubbed a “work in progress” and advanced to the floor
    4. Ridiculed by senators
    5. B, C & D  
  1. Budget Reform should include:
    1. Creating yet a third rainy day fund
    2. Adding yet another spending cap
    3. Further restricting the ability of lawmakers to limit spending
    4. Repeated us of the word “structural” and the phrase “bridging the gap.”
    5. All of the above. 


  1. Taking every third politician out to be shot would be a:
    1. Much needed public policy reform.
    2. Strong inducement to on-time budget approval.
    3. Major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
    4. High-rated ABC reality show.
    5. Waste of time since others would take their places. 


  1. A talented lobbyist
    1. Smiles through the pain.
    2. Intuitively sends contributions before being brow-beaten into doing so by a politician.
    3. Only eats their young when paid to by a client.
    4. Lives for September, October, November and December.
    5. Masks their disdain for politicians and bureaucrats with Academy Award-like grace. 


  1. Assembly Republicans
    1. Passed through a membrane from another universe.
    2. Can write the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin.
    3. Wouldn’t know a reasonable compromise if it passed gas standing next to them in an elevator.
    4. Have actually, in the past, been even more vitriolic and pig-headed
    5. Are – may God have mercy – the key to a budget solution. 


  1. Senate Democrats
    1. Live to serve.
    2. Serve to live.
    3. Are more moderate than they used to be.
    4. Do it with deflators
    5. Curl up at night with the Sinclair Paint court ruling       
  1. A governor should:
    1. Treat the Capitol like Camelot in Monthy Python
    2. Have the vision thing.
    3.  Dig strudel
    4. Avoid sharp objects from June 30th until Labor Day
    5. Let the Mrs. have a go at and see how she likes it. 


  1. If a politician and a lobbyist left their offices at 5:15 pm to attend a fundraiser that is 450 yards away, who would arrive first?
    1. The lobbyist so he can leave sooner and go to 12 more events
    2. The politician because it gets him out of a Budget Sub #4 hearing.
    3. The campaign contribution – it’s already been delivered.
    4. The hard-working, under-appreciated staff.
    5. The heavy drinkers.

 9. Based on pubic opinion polls, the biggest issue facing California is:

       A. Growth

       B. The state budget mess.

       C. Redistricting

       D. Building a new reservoir somewhere

       E. Spaying and neutering pets 


10. If you need a friend in Sacramento

A.    Try having a belt with your enemy

B.    Don’t shop for one in Caesar Chavez Park

C.   There’s always Faces in Midtown or the News & Review Personals

D.   Keep your hands off staff

E.    Get a dog











Filed under: Venting


  1. Greg
    I know you are smarter than me having watched you ask “when do we get to have a taste?’ in the first 31 seconds of the Bushmill’s tour, but for the life of me lad I can’t find in question one B,C & D.

    Comment by DL — 5.24.2008 @ 5:04 am

  2. Californians do not need politicians that can pass or fail some prescribed test. We all know they’d send someone else to take the test for them anyway.

    What would passing a test tell the people, really? It’s hardly intelligence that gets one elected, but more so the gift of bullshitting.

    What California and our once great Country needs is term limits. Career politicians should be the number one State and National concern.

    Still, for us common sense folk, finish up your reading on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

    Comment by Brent — 5.24.2008 @ 7:39 am

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