When Republican legislators in the California Assembly twice voted down a proposal to close a sales-tax loophole that allows yacht owners to escape paying sales taxes on their luxury purchases at the same time they were voting to approve massive reductions in healthcare services to the poor, it was obvious that somebody was going to have some fun pointing out the disparities.
Enter the Courage Campaign, the liberal activist group fresh off a notable victory in taking the lead to force L.A. County election officials to count disputed "double bubble" ballots cast in the Feb. 5 Democratic primary. It has produced a TV commercial and is asking online supporters for modest donations to underwrite the $10,000 cost of airing it on Sacramento cable television next week.
The ad shows Republican members on the floor of the Assembly with dream bubbles of fancy yachts floating above their heads. At the end, it places sailor hats on the heads of a group of GOP lawmakers, including Sen. George Runner, whose district includes Santa Paula and Fillmore.
The decision by Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez to bring the measure to a vote a second time -- knowing that it wouldn't pass -- clearly infuriated GOP lawmakers, who understood that the symbolism could be easily exploited.
In an e-mail to supporters, the Courage Campaign says: "While you are wondering if your child's school is going to be shut down because of the brutal cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, his California Republican "Yacht Party" colleagues in the state legislature are protecting the lavish lifestyles of the super-wealthy."
Ouch. Perhaps the saving grace for Republicans is that the group plans to air the ads on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" -- shows with audiences that tend to vote Democratic without being poked in the ribs by the Courage Campaign.