Mortgages, Entrepreneurs, & Idiots

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The leadoff event at today's Women's Conference hosted by California's first lady, featuring Governor Schwarzenegger and investor Warren Buffett, was an amusing chat sprinkled with only the slightest dusting of news.

The governor and Buffett, longtime friends forever linked in political history by an awkward few moments in the early days of the 2003 recall campaign, sat on stage in Long Beach to talk money, business savvy, and the power of women.

The annual event, in its current incarnation, is the brainchild of First Lady Maria Shriver and features a long list of VIPs speaking to a sellout crowd.

This morning's kickoff conversation between the Austrian Oak and the Oracle of Omaha was moderated by MSNBC political provocateur Chris Matthews, whose participation might have something to do with mending fences with women.

As said before, there was only a faint hint of news... and here it is: Schwarzenegger effectively aligned himself with the guy he's not supporting for president on the subject of the government buying back troubled mortgages.

The governor's pick in the race, Republican John McCain, has proposed using some of the $700 billion bailout package to buy up troubled mortgages. But his opponent, Democrat Barack Obama, has criticized the plan because it appears to call for buying those mortgages at face value, rather than the true market value -- thus costing the federal government more money than it ought to pay.

Today, Schwarzenegger parted ways with the GOP nominee on the issue, saying that the feds should buy the mortgages, but only at the "adjusted value."

Of course, the governor also made remarks more friendly to the McCain campaign, including a subtle dig discussions of "redistribution of wealth," a topic being hotly debated by the candidates.

But the best line of the morning came from Buffett, the iconic billionaire who's backing Obama.

In talking about his advice for building strong companies, Buffett said that a company should be "so good that an idiot can run it, because sooner or later, one will."

Without missing a beat, he then said: "We have a country like that."

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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