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Gov. Gray Davis, anxious to endear himself to liberals who have little reason to embrace him, is trying to craft a new image for himself: high priest of judicial diversity. He recently appointed the state’s first Korean-American woman judge, first Vietnamese-American woman judge, and first black woman on the San Francisco Superior Court bench. And just in case his sledgehammer tact escapes someone’s notice, Davis makes sure his press releases point out the up-by-the-bootstraps, struggling-foreign-family-makes-good appeal of his appointments. The governor tries to strike ethnic gold in those press releases: One new judge’s family “fled to the United States as refugees”; when another was 10, “her father’s work required the family to move to Guam.” Those homespun details aren’t to be found in the press releases on other appointees — apparently someone with an Anglo-Saxon last name doesn’t have any family experiences worth mentioning. We’re certainly not belittling any of the latest appointments, who may well be eminently qualified for their new robes. We just wish the governor wouldn’t try to convert their ethnic backgrounds into political currency for himself. But then again, it’s not easy finding so many “firsts” for judicial appointments. The Recorder has discovered confidential memos between Davis and his appointments secretary, Burt Pines, that show just how tough it is: Dear Governor, I like your idea of being the man who appoints “firsts” to California’s bench. It’s a brilliant plan, especially since you’ve alienated a lot of voters with your handling of the power crisis (not that I think you did anything wrong) and your refusal to consider parole for those crazy women who kill their abusers (aren’t you sick of hearing people bleat about “victims with no other alternative” and “temper justice with mercy?”) Wackos. And yes, let’s definitely put the emphasis on the new judges’ ethnic backgrounds — people love that stuff. It’ll make you look like a progressive guy. Not that you aren’t. You know what I mean. Burt Dear Burt, Great! I think I’ve got another one that fits all our criteria: nice exotic name, a first as far as I can tell, and lots of family pathos — his dad was a freedom fighter and they lived in a tent. He hails from Al Qaeda. (I think that’s one of those little towns near Markleeville.) More later. Gray Dear Governor, Um, actually al Qaeda is not in Alpine County, but is a terrorist organization. You may want to rethink that. Burt Dear Burt, Oops. My bad. Well, here’s one. This guy’s a drag queen — we haven’t appointed one of those folks before, have we? And he was one of the founders of Up With People. I love that group. How about for the next vacancy in Santa Ana? Gray Dear Governor, Your idea sounds great. I, too, enjoy Up With People. However, I think perhaps Orange County isn’t the best place for this particular appointee. Perhaps in San Francisco, where there are three vacancies? Burt Dear Burt, Well, I planned to put the first troop leader of the Boy Scouts’ Good Shepherd Baptist Troop in one of those slots. San Franciscans like do-gooders, don’t they? And who does more good than Boy Scouts? Especially religious Boy Scouts? Gray Dear Governor, No offense, but here’s an idea. Would you be OK with swapping the Boy Scout judge for the drag queen judge? You’d still have your firsts, and I think each community would be better served. Burt Dear Mr. Negative, I’m trying my best to keep us on the cutting edge of enlightened, out-of-the-box thinking, and I’d appreciate some support here. If you don’t like my ideas, I think there are openings on Simon’s staff. Governor Davis

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