By Chuck DeVoreCalifornia State Assemblyman

Paul Rodriguez wants water -- and he's angry enough to get some

One wouldn't immediately associate comedian and actor Paul Rodriguezwith a serious issue such as water. But, as Mark Twain said: "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over."

Rodriguez is so concerned about water that he helped create the California Latino Water Coalition, led marches with several thousand peoplein recent weeks, and spoke Saturday night to a convention of the conservative California Republican Assemblyin Bakersfield. I addressed the convention goers about my U.S. Senate run against Barbara Boxerjust before Rodriguez' turn at the podium.

What has Rodriguez' concerned to spark political action is the shutdown of water pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. These pumps move water from California's wet north to the agricultural Central Valley and urban Southern California. A judge's ruling switched the pumps off over a controversial U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report that declared a fish, the delta smelt, threatened. No one really knows if turning the pumps off will help the fish, but most can agree that California's agricultural industry will take a big hit this year due to lack of water.

Rodriguez and his family own farmland in the Central Valley where, as the comedian said on Saturday night, "We grow the sweetest oranges and sourest lemons." But now, because of a judge's ruling, the most fertile land on "this blue marble" will lie fallow. People will be out of work. Less food will be grown. And farmer and farm worker alike will be hurt.

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