SAN JOSE, CA -- With a standing ovation Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came to rural San Jose friday to kick off his "Give Me 50 Campaign" for using cleaner fuels like hydrogen and biodeisel along California's highways. After his speech to local legislators, the media and celebrities including Hilary Duff, Robert Redford and Willie Nelson he then drove south along California's Highway 101 with his red Hybrid H2, looking to catch violators to film for his new on-going California Public Service TV commercials.
"If I catch anyone driving the state's major highways in a hybrid vehicle not capable of 50mpg this year, I'll personally pull them over and make them drop and give me 50," he said, as he stood by the roadside with a local reporter and two men caught driving a non hybrid Ford Escape on the 101 south of Monterey. "I'm tired of this nonsense," he told the two men. "Do you know who I am? Highway 101 is a 'Hybrid only' highway. If I catch you, I'll make you a shining examples." The two men then dropped to the ground to give him 50 pushups.
The governator then headed south along the 101 pulling over several vans loaded with familes, the elderly, women and children and made them walk back to Monterey. "Its about 50 miles, but they'll learn next time," he said. "If it takes me until 2010 to get this road 100% hybrid, I'll do it. Its my way or the highway", he said.
At one large truck stop near Paso Robles, he then pulled over an 18 wheeler loaded with gasoline, inspected the fuel tank for biodiesel and made the trucker abandon his rig road side. "I think he's serious," said the trucker who was later interviewed by reporters as he hitched a ride along 101. "He literally yanked me out of my rig by one arm and inspected my fuel tanks personally while reminding me about Willie's Biodiesel fuel stop up the road." Several lanes of the freeway were jammed as traffic was pulled over. One other truck owner pulled over later remarked, "I was impressed by his personal initiative, but who's going to pay to tow my rig out of here, the state of California?"
The state's Democratic legislators have called Schwartzenegger's behavior 'typical republican'. "They take things too literally when it comes to getting folks to switch to new behaviors," said Michelle Davis a state Democrat from La Jolla. "Making old ladies walk the highway 50 miles -- does this sound like a sound way to kick-off a energy policy? I'm appalled." "I have a cousin who works at a nuclear power plant who wants more built in California, and even she's in shock," said one other woman.
Still, as a spokesman for Gov Schwartzenegger, who chose to remain anonymous rebuffed, "we really do need to raise the bar and get people moving towards alternative fuels. If these sort of personal initiatives by the governor are needed, he has every right to do so," he said. "Californians will not only get better gas mileage and cleaner energy, but they'll be in better physical shape as well."