Sacramento, Calif. — When a tall, muscular man wields a 2-foot-long knife on-camera, it’s usually not for a thank-you video.
But that’s what California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has done on his Twitter account, where the Republican actor-turned-governor posted a video message Tuesday thanking followers for their budget-balancing ideas as the state tries to fix a $26 billion deficit.
In the video, he sits at his desk in the state Capitol admiring a 2-foot-long folding knife before addressing viewers and saying he likes one follower’s suggestion to autograph a fleet of state-owned vehicles being put up for auction on Craigslist and eBay.
“You come up with the great ideas. Why not just sign the cars since you’re a celebrity governor? Sign the cars and sell it for more money,” the governor says. “That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
The governor’s spokesman, Aaron McLear, said the knife was a gift from a friend and arrived Tuesday, and that the governor is serious about signing the auctioned vehicles.
The auction, planned for late August, was prompted by tips from state employees and put into motion through an executive order. Officials estimate that selling 15 percent of California’s 40,000 government vehicles could raise about $24 million.
Schwarzenegger defended the Twitter video Wednesday when asked by a reporter whether it was appropriate at a time when the state is making deep cuts that are affecting the lives of the poor, elderly, children, college students and government employees. The state also is trying to close the budget gap by furloughing state workers three days a month.
Schwarzenegger said he shot the Web clip because he does not want to be seen as “El Stiffo,” suggesting previous governors were less colorful than he is.
The governor said he doesn’t enjoy making budget cuts but does need to keep his sense of humor.
“Not that I have fun with making the cuts — they sadden me — but ... that doesn’t mean that you cannot wave a knife around, or to wave your sword around, to get the message across that certain cuts have to be made because it’s budget time,” Schwarzenegger said during the news conference.