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Man who dreamed of being 'king of the earth'

From Charles Feldman
CNN Los Angeles Bureau

Arnold Schwarzenegger described his ambitions in the 1976 documentary
Arnold Schwarzenegger described his ambitions in the 1976 documentary "Pumping Iron."

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Actor-turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger once told a documentary film maker he often dreamed of dictators.

"I was always dreaming about very powerful people -- dictators and things like that," 28-year-old Schwarzenegger said in "Pumping Iron," a film about bodybuilding that was released in 1976. "I was just always impressed by that ... People could be remembered for hundreds of years, you know -- even Jesus for thousands of years remembered."

Schwarzenegger has had a recurring dream about becoming "king of the earth," said George Butler who produced and directed the documentary which is being released soon on DVD.

Butler, who considers the Republican actor a friend, said Schwarzenegger -- an Austrian-born naturalized American citizen -- is one of the most ambitious people he's ever met.

"Nothing that's going on in California is even remotely surprising to any of us who have known Arnold for a long time," he told CNN in a telephone interview.

As a candidate for governor, Schwarzenegger has thus far been skimpy on details about how he hopes to turn the economic situation in California around. He does say, however, that his "leadership" will be able to do it.

He is also using famous phrases from his movies to make points with potential voters. When he announced he would run on NBC's The Tonight Show, Schwarzenegger said it was "hasta la vista" for Gov. Gray Davis and that he would "pump up Sacramento" if he was elected.

In the less than two months leading up to the historic recall election aimed at Davis, questions may be raised about Schwarzenegger's Hollywood background and his character.

"If you're going to campaign as a celebrity," said Bob Mulholland, the campaign adviser to the California Democratic Party, "you have to be open to the fact that the press and the voters have a right to know what your views were 20 years ago or 30 years ago."

But, Schwarzenegger's campaign manager, George Gorton, referring to the dictator dreams, said: "I don't think he meant anything other than the fact that he's interested in people who made a real difference in society."

There are other potential clues to Schwarzenegger's character in "Pumping Iron."

He tells the story about learning of his father's death in Austria while he was completing training in the United States for a bodybuilding competition.

"My mother called on the phone and she said, 'You know, your dad died.' And this was exactly two months before a contest. And, she says, 'You come home to the funeral!' I say, no, it's too late, you know, he's dead ... There's nothing to be done and I'm sorry I can't come, you know..."

Although other politicians, such as former Vice President Al Gore, have admitted experimenting with various drugs in their youth, Schwarzenegger may be the only one who did it in on camera. Toward the end of "Pumping Iron," Schwarzenegger seems to be puffing on a marijuana joint. Butler, in an interview, said he believes it was.

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