Toby Canham/Getty Images
Message in a veto? Toby Canham/Getty Images
His office swears (pun intended) that it's unintentional. But reading down the lines, it sure looks like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped an F-bomb on his critics in the California State Assembly.
San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross show how, in a veto message, the guvernator's words line up so that if you read down the left side it spells out ... well, we can't write what it spells out. Let's just say it's a pretty common two-word combination in which the first word is four letters long and begins with "F" and the second word is three letters long and begins with "Y".
The Chronicle has helpfully posted a copy of the veto message here.
According to Matier and Ross, Schwarzenegger was vetoing a "rather mundane bill" sponsored by state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who earlier this month told the governor to "kiss my gay —-".
Schwarzenegger press spokesman Aaron McLear calls it a "weird coincidence."
The possibly profane message was first spotted by SFBG Politics, a blog by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Fair warning: Its story does not shy away from the adult language.
Update at 3:25 p.m. ET: Well, All Things Considered host Melissa Block just got off the phone with a Goucher College professor who studies cryptological mathematics. The professor, Robert Lewand, told her the odds of those letters appearing exactly where they did are:
"About 5.5 in 1 trillion."
"It would be very, very unlikely that would happen by chance," Lewand added.
Another clue that tells him the letters didn't get where they did by accident: The word "kicks" at the start of the fourth line in the sequence. "There are relatively few words in the English language that begin with 'k'," Lewand said. "They really had to search for that one."
More from Melissa's conversation with Lewand is due on today's edition of ATC. Click here to find an NPR station near you.
Update at 4:05 p.m. ET. And here are two audio clips from that conversation. First, Lewand on the odds:
Then, how he does his calculations: