For Californians who feel they are part of anAlice-in-Wonderland budget process, check out what's going on in theneighboring state of Nevada. Governor Jim Gibbons recently announcedsome draconian solutions to the state's $1.5 billion budget shortfall.

Theone most shocking is a 40+ percent cut to the university systembudget. Imagine the reaction here in California to a cut of nearlyhalf the spending for higher education.

GovernorSchwarzenegger had the nerve to suggest that legislators take a paycut as a symbolic gesture and to save the state some money. As heput it in his State of the State address on January 15, “if youcall a taxi and the taxi doesn't show up, you don't have to pay thedriver.”

In other words, thecitizens of California should not have to pay our legislators forfailing to do their job.

Nothingshort of a massive dose of retroactive common sense -- not to mention ashot of banking industry regulation -- could have stopped theforeclosure crisis that's been the nuclear reactor in California'sbudget meltdown. Nothing short of a sprinkling of pixie dust that woulderase the state's onerous two-thirds approval requirement for budgets will loosen the current legislative long-jam.

In the recent blockbuster The Dark Knight,the by-this-point infamous Joker sidles up to the permanently scarredHarvey Dent and expresses his hope that "There won't be any hardfeelings between us, Harvey." The Joker's reasoning for why Dent shouldnot blame him for the mutilation of Dent's face and the death of Dent'sgirlfriend is that the Joker was "sitting in [Police Commissioner]Gordon's cage" and "didn't rig those charges" at the time it happened.The defense is laughable, and Dent makes as much clear.

It's a strange world when a Democratic president does in six days what Republican governor could not convince a Republican president to do in four years of letter-writing, lawsuits and international embarrassment.

Yet, that's happening today, as President Barack Obama lowers the Environmental Protection Agency's long-standing blockade of California's tough automobile emissions standards.