This Is Why People Make Fun of California

1 Mar

By Daniel Luzer, who blogs about semi-relevant issues.

California is um, very strange.  At least in part because California isn’t really governable at all, some very strange people think it would be a great lark to be head of the Golden State.  There was John McDougall, who once remarked that “duelers were not fit to live and would eventually kill each other off,” and then injured himself in a duel with a journalist four days after leaving office in 1852. Milton Latham was governor for five days 1860 in an effort to get himself appointed to the U.S. Senate. And then there was B-movie actor Ronald Reagan. There was Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And now, term limits having forced Schwarzenegger out office, we have the new election coming up, which pits some 23 people against each other in a furious scramble to see who gets to be the next guy to spend four years worrying about how to keep water flowing to Los Angeles.

The strangest candidate may well be German-born pseudo-nobleman Frederic Prinz von Anhalt. The husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, von Anhalt’s campaign slogan is “Return to the Good Life in California.” As von Anhalt explains:

When I came to California 26 years ago we had the ‘Good Life.’ We were prosperous; people had jobs, affordable homes and money to spend. The economy was great. I loved the state so much that I decided to make my home here, marry and become a citizen.”

About 10 years ago things started to deteriorate, and last year when the state was at its worst I decided I had to try and make a difference. I decided to enter the political realm and get California back on the right track.

Vague, optimistic, and apparently humble. A traditional politician, right? Well not really. This is the latest project in a very strange life.

First off: he’s not really a prince. This fact is perhaps a fact somewhat obscured on his website, which says: “I have left out the long line of ancestors, historical origins, explanation of the house’s court of arms, etc. on purpose. I want to deal with the present and, of course, the future!”

It’s so refreshing to have such a forward-looking candidate, isn’t it? Well, he also might want to leave out all of that information about his ancestors because they’re actually pretty ordinary people.

Born Hans Lichtenberg, his father was a policeman in a town in southwestern Germany. At the age of 37 he apparently paid Princess Marie Augustine von Anhalt, an impoverished woman in her eighties—who had been briefly married to a son of the last emperor of Germany—to adopt him.

Titles of nobility cannot be passed on by adoption. But since Germany outlawed these titles after World War I, technically no one is a real prince. So Hans Lichtenberg figured anyone can claim to be.

While it’s not clear from his Web site that Von Anhalt has ever really had a job, he’s always gotten a big thrill out of being in the newspaper, mostly the National Enquirer.  In 1986 he married Gabor, a woman some 28 years his senior. In 2007, he claimed to be the biological father of Anna Nicole Smith’s infant daughter, though it was never really clear that he had ever actually met Smith.

Von Anhalt’s entire political platform consists of the following five issues:

  1. Legalize marijuana and tax it
  2. Overturn Prop 8
  3. Open U.S.-Mexico border
  4. Adjust DMV fees
  5. Overturn Cuban cigar ban

I tried to order these things according to their foolishness but I sort of gave up. It probably would be a good idea to allow the import of Cuban tobacco products but the import of anything Cuban is prevented under the Cuban Democracy Act, which is a U.S. federal law. The governor of California has no power to bring back the stogie. The same thing with Proposition 8. It’s an amendment to the California Constitution, and there’s little the governor can do to fix it.

He is, unsurprisingly, running as an independent.

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5 Responses to “This Is Why People Make Fun of California”

  1. mazz March 1, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    hmmm, not sure what to say.
    i remember zsa zsa from the peewee herman christmas special!
    she was hanging out with the cow that was a duchess.

    • Molly March 1, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

      always so on point

  2. Marc March 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    I hope you don’t consider legalizing the ganja the most foolish idea on that list, because it’s an absolutely great idea that should be implemented on a national level.

    Is Prinz actually a real part of this guy’s name? Or did he just add it in to make people think of a Prince when they read it?

    • Daniel March 2, 2010 at 6:29 am #

      Yea, although he was adopted by an actual princess, his surname is “Prinz von Anhalt.” So he’s technically Mr. Prinz von Anhalt. But I’m not sure if that makes him more of a scam artist or not because I can’t tell if legitimate German princes regularly use their historic titles in their surnames. They might. Probably not. It seems like tacky. But, um, this whole thing is really complicated and sort of boring and very weird so I just left it out of the article.

  3. Silvia Mccollum May 28, 2010 at 6:17 am #

    You’ve done it once again! Great article!

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