Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the 2010 inductees of the California Hall of Fame today, with country music outlaw Merle Haggard making the honor roll, which strikes us as kind of funny.

Possibly only in free-wheelin' California would a Republican, movie star governor decide that an ex-convict with a long rap sheet and a stint at the notorious San Quentin State Prison is one of the state's most special and accomplished citizens.

But Haggard's always had good luck with Republican politicians: Former California Governor Ronald Reagan, who, of course, later became president, gave the musician a full pardon in 1972.

Without a doubt, Haggard is a country music legend who deserves the honor, and he hasn't gone soft over the years. Just read this excerpt from an Uncut magazine interview:

“I hate to say this, but politically speaking, there was more freedom in San Quentin when I was there than there is in the streets of America now,” said Haggard. “Everything you did this morning has been recorded on film. That wasn't the case in prison when I was there. They might as well put a wall up: they've got us all under surveillance. In jail at the time, you could play poker 24 hours a day if you wanted to. Now, you can't even smoke. What a world we live in. You can't smoke in a pool hall. What has happened?”

Law-and-order and family values types may be saying the same kind of thing about Haggard's induction.

All we can say is, “Long Live Hag!”

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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