Arnold Schwarzenegger Explains It All

Thursday: The former governor had a lot to say in a recent interview at his home in Los Angeles. Also: A sheep experiment in Davis.,

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ImageArnold Schwarzenegger with his donkey Lulu in the backyard of his home in Los Angeles.
Arnold Schwarzenegger with his donkey Lulu in the backyard of his home in Los Angeles.Credit…Tracy Nguyen for The New York Times

Good morning.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s last four governors have put out a new public service announcement counting the reasons that Californians should get vaccinated.

“Hugs!” Gray Davis suggests. “Road trips!” notes Pete Wilson. “Theme parks!” barks Jerry Brown.

Arnold Schwarzenegger cites “movies” and “a pump in the gym.” Not only is the Covid-19 inoculation “safe and effective,” he says, but “you’re more likely to get an allergic reaction listening to the Sacramento politicians.”

“C’mon, Arnold! Low blow!” the embattled Newsom cries in response.

Schwarzenegger was not shy about speaking his mind in his recent interview with Shawn Hubler for The New York Times, talking at length about the pandemic, the recall election that swept him into office in 2003, his viral speech after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and more.

So much more, in fact, that we didn’t have room for it all in our weekend story. So here — as a bonus for California Today readers — are some additional lightly edited thoughts from the former Governator.

On his personal politics: “I operate with a European mind, and I also operate with an American mind. That’s why no one can figure me out. It has nothing to do with ‘Republican versus Democrat.’ I never paid attention to any of this political stuff, period, because I think that both are full of crap.”

On this political moment: “When I came over to America in 1968, there was the attack on the Democratic convention in Chicago, here was the burning, there was the beating with clubs, white, Black, it made no difference what race you were. And then there was also the continuous bombing of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and people dying. And then comes the Watergate break-in. And then Jimmy Carter was elected. And America was, like, ‘Whew!’ It was like Biden now: ‘Thank God there’s someone sane in the White House now. Maybe we don’t agree with him, but at least he’s sane.’ What I’m saying is, we have seen wild times before. This is one of those wild times that we just have to get through.”

On Donald Trump: “Donald was an old friend. He was one of the first ones to come and support me when I ran for governor. But I didn’t accept his money because he was with the gaming industry, and we didn’t accept any gaming money. And I did not endorse him or help him with his campaign because of his environmental stands. When I heard his speeches about bringing back coal and fossil fuels, I said, ‘This is like bringing back Blockbuster.’ It’s going backward. He understood. I said, ‘What you should do is copy California.’ He didn’t say no — then.”

On Republicans: “There’s the Republican principles and there’s what the Republican Party stands for today. I am with the Republican principles. Just because someone is screwing up doesn’t mean I have to leave that philosophy.”

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Arnold Schwarzenegger receiving his coronavirus vaccine shot at Dodger Stadium.Credit…Ryan Young for The New York Times

On the pandemic: “Wearing a mask and washing your hands and all that stuff has become a political issue. Because I guess Republicans don’t wear masks and don’t wash their hands — and don’t get coronavirus, apparently. Apparently the virus will know exactly who is a Democrat. [Rolls eyes.] So I suggested that we should do a P.S.A. and have all the governors involved. If the rest of the country is stupid enough to think this is a political issue, so be it.”

On the Capitol insurrection: “The most important thing for a politician is to be truthful, and I know it’s the most difficult thing to do. But if a politician is not truthful, people get confused. My idea with that speech about Jan. 6 was to penetrate through that and give people the facts: No one ripped you off with the election. There was no unusual cheating. The American people voted for Biden, Biden is our president and therefore we should go and stand behind him. Not a single serious Republican said, ‘How can you do this?’ Because they know the truth.”

On Bitcoin: “No, I don’t invest in them. I am like Warren Buffett. I don’t invest in things I don’t understand.”

On philanthropy: “Easy come, easy go! I made all my money in America. I can give some back.”

On political mistakes: “I feel like, you just come clean. I think that the whole idea of a cover-up of some sort doesn’t work. I think you have to have the guts to brag when you’re good and you’ve got to have also the guts to go and say, ‘That was terrible. What a bad mistake. How stupid was I?'”

On his divorce: You learn that you cannot be hypocritical and preach perfection all the time and be mad at people when they screw up. Because you realize, so did you.”

On former President George W. Bush’s portrait of him: “All the dreams I had — to come to America, to make millions of dollars, to get into movies, to be a bodybuilding champion — I never thought, ‘And in the future, I want also to be painted by a president.’ Is that wild or what?”

On risk: “I was never afraid of things. What’s the worst that can happen? There’s the ground. That’s as far as I can fall. If I lose, I make another action movie. Life goes on.”


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President Biden and Mayor Eric Garcetti stopped by King Taco in Los Angeles in May 2019.Credit…Rozette Rago for The New York Times

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Sheep grazing a field at the University of California, Davis on Wednesday. A research experiment is underway to see which is more effective — a herd of 25 sheep or a landscape crew equipped with power mowers and fertilizer.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

You might be forgiven for thinking that the herd of sheep now grazing on the University of California, Davis campus was there merely to add pastoral ambience. (They are the Aggies, after all.)

But the 25 animals — a mix of Suffolk, Hampshire, Southdown and Dorset sheep — are actually part of an academic experiment to see if they could be more effective at maintaining the landscape than their machine counterparts. They’re also being used for their wool.

The sheep can be found on Instagram at @UCDavis_sheepmowers, if you’re interested in following their progress over the summer.

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Hunter Ottman, left, and Justin Burmester, both U.C. Davis seniors, monitor the sheep as part of the experiment.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

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