Via The Swamp, the Chicago Tribune's political blog, comes news of an awesome (if spiteful) bit of gubernatorial wordplay from the office of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:
San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano had sponsored a bill which passed unanimously granting the Port of San Francisco financial power to redevelop a former shipyard for a new neighborhood known as Pier 70.
Ammiano also had made something of a scene at a Democratic Party fundraiser early this month in San Francisco at which Schwarzenegger, a Republican, had been invited by former San Francisco mayor and Assembly speaker Willie Brown, a Democrat. This surprised many, in light of the heated budget wars between the governor and legislature.
Ammiano could be heard invoking the cry of Republican South Carolina's Rep. Joe Wilson at President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress – "You lie" – as others heckled Schwarzenegger's brief speech. After the governor left, Ammiano took the stage with a rambling criticism of Schwarzenegger for a variety of offenses — among them the governor's vetoes of bills that would have legalized gay marriage.
When the governor's office delivered a veto-message for Ammiano's own port bill a few days later, on Oct. 12, there appeared to be an unmistakable hidden message within: Reading the first letter of each line of the letter's two main paragraphs:
"My goodness. What a coincidence," a shocked, shocked Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear is quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "I suppose when you do so many vetoes, something like this is bound to happen."
With some back-of-the-envelope calculations of probability, I'm sure we could set about refuting McLear's disingenuous response that the acrostic is merely a "coincidence." Scholars of Shakespeare have argued whether the following acrostic in A Midsummer's Night Dream, in which the character Titania spells out her own name, could have appeared by chance:
Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no,
I am a spirit of no common rate,
The summer till doth tend upon my state;
ANd I do love thee. Therefore go with me.
I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee;
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep…
But I think in this case it's pretty clear that we're dealing with intentionally mischievous acrostic-making in the Governor's office. It reads very smoothly, so kudos to the writer of the veto message. Could it have been Ahnold himself? Doubtful, although he might have told someone in his office to construct the acrostic. (I wonder if whoever did it also leaked the story to reveal his or her handiwork.)
Kudos too to Mark Silva of The Swamp, for coming up with a novel taboo avoidance strategy in his headline, "Schwarzenegger to foe: (Veto) 'you'."