At a time when ex-Prez of Egypt Hosni Mubarak is private-jetting off to his sprawling estate in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikha, where a charmed life awaits the loathed 30-year dictator (free of angry mobs and full of luxury frond-fan type shit — not really sure why he didn't agree to go sooner), California Governor Jerry Brown is in the spotlight for a flight of his own.

But instead of basking in a big-government brigade, Jerry was popping his blue collar (OK, still white, but symbolically so fucking blue) on Southwest flight 896 from Sacramento to Burbank yesterday.

Cue collective swoon across California:

Nightly news was blowing up with the item last night, almost skipping over his L.A. speech entirely to talk about this incredible humbleness and respect for the taxpayers. Even L.A. City Council President @ericgarcetti got in on the action:

Credit: Twitter

Credit: Twitter

Garcetti's totally getting the hand of those hashtags, BTW. It would probably make our entire 2011 if #trueleadershipintoughtimes started trending right now.

But it is trending, in theory. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Carla Marinucci followed Brown onto the flight, recording his every move. Watch her giggle like a schoolgirl in this everyman YouTube piece (because, as we all learned from that insufferable Time Magazine stunt a couple years back, YOU can be the person of the year, too!):

Of course, Governor Brown wasn't completely alone on the flight — there was, conveniently, a small circle of reporters to fuss over his immense goodness of character the whole way down. Writes Marinucci:

The Democratic governor was very much in budget-cutting mode, sitting in an everyman's seat (he didn't want to pay the $16 extra for Southwest's “business select” seating), no press aides, no entourage, no security — not even his chief adviser, wife Anne Gust Brown.

“The people of California are good company,'' Brown told us, after spending the flight in lively conversation with Dept. of Corrections employee Tianne Rios, a juvenile justice special education supervisor who sat down a seat away.

Aside from Rios, the governor hit it off with a gaggle of other civilians in surrounding coach seats. The Chronicle columnist quotes CalPERS board member J.J. Jelincic as saying “the governor's low rent travel 'seems terribly appropriate these days.'” (Of course, rent at his redevelopment-renovated Sacramento loft doesn't quite fall in the “low” category. But moving on.)

Next we have hip record-company mogul Mark Pinkus, who's “absolutely delighted to be sitting two seats behind a solo, shirtsleeved governor.” He says: “It's saving us money, and it's 'of the people' of California.”

Brown even basks in a good “laud” from a Southwest flight attendant before stepping off the plane, into a world where he has to tell everyone and their mothers that he's either cutting their funding or raising their taxes.

But in the end, that news is so much easier to deliver with proletariat peanuts on the breath. And oh, does the old man know it.

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