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That’s the question conservative California Republicans are angrily demanding an answer to. Because there is no doubt in their minds that Karl Rove, the guy who runs GW’s election campaigns, is behaving as if he intentionally wants his boss to lose the Golden State in November.

Rove seems determined to keep repeating the pattern of Republican presidential defeats since 1992. In that year, Bush 41 abandoned California, giving up on a state Ronald Reagan carried overwhelmingly twice and which he had won himself four years earlier. Thus California was lost and Clinton was president.

It was worse in 1996. While Bush 41 had made an effort then gave up, Dole never made an effort at all.

In 2000, at least GW tried. He went to California five times in six weeks and spent $24 million. Gore went once, spent approximately $0 — and carried the state by 1,200,000 votes. What would be the first thing you would do, what would be the first thing any responsible CEO would do — after such a botched fiasco? Fire the incompetents responsible and replace them with people who know what they are doing, who know how to win — right?

Not if you’re Karl Rove.

The same incompetents, the same conservative-hating invertebrate squishes who lost California in 2000 by 1.2 million votes and every single state-wide office in 2002 are running GW’s re-election campaign for 2004. Specifically, the Chairman of California Bush-Cheney 2004, Gerald Parsky.

No one in California GOP circles is more despised by conservative grass-roots Republicans than Parsky — and no one has more dismissive disdain for them than Parsky. As long as he is running GW’s campaign, this assures that the activists upon whom any campaign depends will not participate or will with little enthusiasm. The bottom line is this:

If Gerald Parsky is not fired, and continues to run Bush’s re-election campaign in California, Bush will lose California in November. Defeat is baked in the cake.

OK — so firing Parsky prevents an inevitable loss. But averting certain defeat is not the same as winning. What can Rove and GW do to win? Who could replace Parsky, who could electrify grass-roots Republicans and get them to pour their souls into the campaign, who could all but ensure that Bush will carry California and thus doom the Dems to defeat?

You of course know the answer: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The really weird question is: Since this is such a no-brainer that anyone with a 3-digit IQ understands — why doesn’t Karl Rove know the answer?

Let’s help Karl, then, and remind him of some basic political facts and realities.

First, about Arnold. He is today the singularly most popular politician in America (and perhaps the world, judging by the constant interview requests by journalists and TV news crews from every country on the planet). Arnold doesn’t ever lose — ever. Not in bodybuilding, not in business, not in movies, not in politics. He is utterly ruthless. As Chairman of the California campaign, there’s only one way he would play — to win.

Second, about the Electoral College. GW can lose California, as he did in 2000, and still win. The Democrats cannot. If they lose California, it’s over. Even if they think they’ll lose California, it’s over — as they will have to waste vast sums they must spend elsewhere to prevent its loss.

Third, the tossup states that make the election a close call are in the Midwest. Florida and the entire South is gone for the Dems. (Predictions are that, for all that angry passion about Florida, Kerry will abandon it like Bush 41 did California. It’s too easy for GW to show up in Miami in September and announce his intention to rid Cuba of Fidel Castro during his second term, and garner 95% of the huge Cuban-American vote.) Kerry will focus on states like Ohio. But if he has to keep racing off to California in a futile attempt to grab the political spotlight away from Arnold, the Midwest Strategy starts to evaporate.

For all of this, George Bush has yet to get on the phone to Arnold and ask for his help. What is needed is for GW to invite Arnold to Crawford, spend some quality time cutting brush and pumping iron (won’t Arnold be surprised to see that GW can bench press his weight more times than Arnold!), then jointly announce Arnold’s acceptance to be GW’s California campaign chairman.

At that moment, every Democrat Party boss will suffer scatological release.

But for this to happen, GW has to first tell Karl Rove to fire his buddy Parsky. Every sitting Republican Governor of California for the last 100 years has chaired the state’s election campaign of the GOP presidential candidate. Why in the world would Rove perversely stick with a man of proven serial incompetence and failure rather than Arnold?

Perhaps he thinks that Arnold will turn the offer down. Turn down the President of the United States? In war time, when GW’s defeat would mean America’s defeat in the War on Terrorism? My sources close to Arnold tell me this is ridiculous.

Perhaps he’s given up on the Golden State, perhaps it’s obsessive loyalty. There are times when loyalty to your country trumps loyalty to your friends. Let’s hope that Karl Rove sees that this is one of those times. Let’s hope he hasn’t given up. Let’s hope he finally comes to understand that Arnold Schwarzenegger and California can guarantee the doom of the Democrats in November.