Seven years down the road and auto makers are in favor of the tougher California emissions standards the industry's fought every step of the way?

Mouthpieces who were moaning less than a month ago that the law California's tried to implement since 2002 "would basically kill the industry", are talking to the Environmental Protection Administration about cutting a deal?

Anyone else see a trap?

The prospect of an open primary in California should send shivers down the spines of millions: a forward-thinking state taking a truly forward-looking step. Sadly, in recent years California has been allowed to fall into a slump, while unrestrained spending and little-to-no oversight, has forced many businesses and individuals to pay the price... literally. With some of the highest taxation rates in the entire country, and a state government going broke, it's hard to swallow the age-old pill that higher taxation equates to strong economies.

A Field Poll released Tuesday showed widespread discontent with the budget deal, the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but revealed broad support for legislation that would allow open primaries.

Voters are willing to get behind the nonpartisan-primary proposal by a 2-to-1 margin. The election change has support from both parties -- that's ironically appropriate -- as well as among nonpartisans.

Prohibition was a huge success. No, it didn't achieve any ofits goals, or make the country a more moral place. It was a huge success for AlCapone, and other gangsters.

For theaverage American, it was a waste of time and money. Prohibition did not make it impossible todrink, just much more expensive. A higherprice of alcohol was caused by a built in "risk premium" on the supply side. Higher prices were exploited by Capone andothers to make money hand over fist in a time of hardship.

Voters are initially supporting the non-partisan primary proposal by a greater than two to one margin (58% to 27%), with majorities of Democrats (56%), Republicans (55%) and especially non-partisans (65%) in favor.

The landscape of California politics may be about to change dramatically.

An open primary system for state elections-- a primary that allows voters to cross party lines--will appear on the ballot in June 2010. State open primary elections would be similar to municipal elections, although the primary vote getter would not win outright---the top two vote-getters would proceed to a November run-off.

Why would anyone actually want to be the next governor of California?

Itis probably one of the toughest in jobs in the nation. The nextgovernor will find him or herself neck deep in a fiscal quagmire, acrippling drought, and a worsening recession. Put together, it is asituation worse than the one that led to Gray Davis' recall.

Her turn: When we met, I thought he wassmart, fun-loving and charming. He charmed me with his go, go, go attitude.Now, I'm not so sure. We fight all the time over finances. I want to stabilizethe budget by cutting back, but all he wants to do is spend, spend, spend.

His turn: She's never been as flashy as Iam, but that's part of what attracted me to her. She's dependable, solid.Lately, though, she's at my throat about everything. She says I don'tunderstand her world, and I do try, but she just seems so closed-minded.

To be sure, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's bill to legalize marijuana in California is worthy of discussion.

Millions are spent on going after pot growers, sellers and users, to no noticeable effect. Any college student, aging hippie or suburban housewife who gets nauseous on aspirin can, with a little work, find a little weed for purchase.

Now that California's embarrassing budgetspectacle is thankfully over, it is reassuring that many of the GoldenState's elected officials and opinion leaders seem to be on the samepage about one thing -- doing away with the state Constitution-requiredtwo-thirds majority vote to approve budgets containing tax increases.