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Gray Davis, reanimated

By SONJA STEPTOE

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Two years after Californians booted Gray Davis for being politically spineless --not to mention dull -- the oft-ridiculed ex-Governor is suddenly aglow with vindication.

Amid the plummeting popularity ratings of his successor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, both a legal settlement and a documentary this summer attribute the state's energy crisis four years ago less to Davis' dithering and more to Enron's market manipulation.

Of the 1,100 respondents in a recent online poll, 67% said they wouldn't recall Davis now if given the chance.

This most cautious of Democrats these days seems candid and downright personable. "I do feel liberated," Davis told TIME.

But while he credits his positive poll numbers in part to "buyer's remorse" for electing Schwarzenegger, he adds that his smile reflects a feeling of redemption rather than revenge.

Now a rainmaker at a Los Angeles law firm, Davis, 62, says, "I don't take any comfort in Arnold's difficulties. I've seen that movie."

Still, some political pals are pushing for a sequel. But Davis hasn't signed on. "I'm not running for Governor," he insists. "If I did, my wife would divorce me."

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