This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: We are live tonight from the San Joaquin Valley. We're in California, where the government has turned off the water, now forcing countless farmers into unemployment and food lines.
And joining me now from Sacramento is the governor of the great state of California. Governor Schwarzenegger is with us.
Governor, thank you for being here. Thank you.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, R-CALIF.: Thank you very much, Sean. For covering this very important story.
HANNITY: Governor, you have said that, if you had the power, you would turn on the water tomorrow. You have brought out the Interior Secretary Salazar. You got scolded in a letter by two Barack Obama Cabinet secretaries. What is the status from your standpoint?
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SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think that, you know, we have a terrible crisis on our hands. And this is a crisis, not because of some disaster. It's a crisis self-inflicted. This is something that the federal government is doing to us. We have done, like you said, everything in the book to convince them otherwise and to turn on the water.
But all they're doing is, is just letting us know that this is impossible to do and do whatever you want, you're on your own. And they're not going to help us.
And I think that it is a horrible situation to have, you know, federal judges interfering with all of this. We have federal judges for the salmon. We have federal judges for the smelt.
Where is the federal judge for the farmers? That's what I'm asking myself. Where are the federal judges for providing our food and providing jobs and helping our state? That's what I'm asking for.
So I think the federal government has had a good relationship with us. We have had a good working relationship with them. But, in this particular case, they have absolutely screwed up in the worst way.
HANNITY: Governor, let me ask you this. Because this impacts over 38 million people. You had sent a letter to the — you brought out Interior Secretary Salazar. You got a letter back scolding you. And in that letter they went on to say — attack California's water infrastructure. They were disappointed that your letter would attempt to lay blame for the California water crisis on the feet of agency scientists.
Now, my question is, Governor, have you had any opportunity to talk to the president of the United States to tell his interior secretary and others in his administration to turn the water back on? And are you planning to talk to the president specifically about this?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes. First of all, I'm planning to talk to the president about this, and I have many, many times talked to the interior secretary and to others. And, you know, we have done everything that we can.
Writing the letters, bringing the political leaders out to our — the valley. And to show them firsthand the 40-plus percent unemployment rate, the way the people are suffering. How we have, you know, have to hand out foods to them. How they have no way of making a living or anything like this.
And this is not only just in the local area or in the valley. I mean, this limits us in the amount of food that we can produce in California, and the valley has specifically always been the place that, you know, feeds the world.
So, we are being handicapped here by federal judges, and this is the terrible thing about it.
In the meantime, I think it's also important for you to note that we're moving ahead here in Sacramento, because we have been negotiating for years to create a water infrastructure, to bring our water infrastructure up to date, because we have now 38 million people in California. And the last infrastructure that you see now that was done was done when we had around 18 million people.
So we are very close to coming to an agreement, and I have great hopes that it can get that done. So we can build infrastructure, build above the ground and below the ground water storage, and also fix the delta and do the kind of things that we need to do. But we've got to, you know, stop choosing the smelt and the salmon over the people and over farming.
HANNITY: All right. But Governor, let me ask you — let me ask you this question. Because I'm listening to the crowd here. And I spent a lot of time. I walked a number of the fields today. I mean, it's becoming a dust bowl. And the political back and forth has gone on and on and on.
What emergency measures do you think as governor of the great state of California do you think is your next step to help this problem sooner rather than later? What do you think you can do next? We have this 1978 endangered species act. They have the God Squad provision. What do you think you can do next and how soon do you think you can accomplish it, sir?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, the God Squad provision we had thought that through because, believe me, that would work. I would do that immediately. But it doesn't work because it takes years to come to a solution. And those five times they have tried that. Four times it failed. So this is not the right way to go. Believe me, otherwise I would have done it already a long time ago.
(CROWD CHANTING "TURN THE WATER ON! TURN THE WATER ON!")
HANNITY: Let me — let me, if I could just ask, I think this is an important question. Considering, Governor, that you don't have the power to do this, considering that you're now in a little bit of a political battle with the Cabinet.
President Obama has said so many times in so many different public speeches that he has an open door policy. Would it be possible, perhaps — I mean, look, he found time to have a beer with Professor Gates. Would it be — would it perhaps be possible for you to fly to Washington and sit down and explain the plight of these farmers and loss of job and maybe sooner than later meet with him and see if we can get this resolved sooner.
Is that something you would be willing to do. I'm asking are you willing to go there sooner than later and would you ask the president on this program tonight to meet with you over a beer and a cigar and bring water here?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, Sean, I think that I made it very clear that I will do whatever it takes to make sure that we turn on the water as quickly as possible so we can go back into the farming and produce the food and create jobs. Because that is the number one priority for me.
HANNITY: Yes. All right. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thank you for being with us. We appreciate your time tonight. We're going to continue to follow the story obviously.
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