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Gavin vs. Brown: Sunday's Times Magazine Dives Deep

Mark Leibovich begins this Sunday's Times magazine feature, "Who Can Possibly Govern California?", by summing up our fair state: "Calamity is just part of the equation here, as if God gave California so much glamour and grandeur and great weather that he had to throw in some apocalyptic menace to provide a little balance. Earthquakes, say. Or Sacramento." Or foggy summers.

Although Gavin Newsom—decribed in one part as "an exotic bird in the midst of browning foothills"—gets the majority of the ink in the magazine piece, Jerry Brown—who is noted for having a fondness for arugula, broccoli and Flax Plus multibran cereal—gets the sit-down too. Read the very long story or say you did and use our following Cliffs Notes.

On Newsom: When I visited him in his office, Newsom, who is 41, had just finished rereading his notes on one of his favorite books about the state, “Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003,” by Kevin Starr. Newsom’s CliffsNotes for “Coast of Dreams” fill 77 pages.

On Brown: State Attorney General Jerry Brown — yes, that Jerry Brown — recently called the job of California governor “a career ender,” which is notable given that Brown, a two-term former governor, now 71, seems intent on ending his career back in that office.

On Newsom: Newsom sees the job of governor as a potentially exhilarating high-wire act. “We’re in a moment of crisis that requires order-of-magnitude change, dramatic change,” he told me. “Candidly, if things were going very well, I don’t think I’d be the best person for the job.”

On Brown: An unlikely grown-up in the field, Jerry Brown recently dubbed himself the Apostle of Common Sense. “Governor is an important role, but a modest role,” Brown told me this spring. “You can’t wear different kinds of socks.”

On Newsom: He once described his city as “47 square miles surrounded by reality,” a formulation he himself tends to reinforce whenever he leaves.

Wait?! Fourty-seven square miles? I thought 7x7 equalled 49.

Turns out neither of us are right. It's 46.7. Newsom's just rounding up like a good politician.