The California prison guards’ threat to lead a recall campaign against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be laughable if it weren’t potentially destructive.

Five years ago, Gov. Gray Davis agreed to a five-year contract with the Correctional Peace Officers Association that was a craven giveaway to a union that had lavishly contributed to him. This political payback helped to create the financial chaos that led voters to bounce Davis from office. Now, because Schwarzenegger is trying to undo mistakes that Davis made in that contract, the union wants to punish him — or pressure him to give away the store like his predecessor.

What chutzpah. The union says the recall is not about them, but it is only about them and their money.

The officers are capitalizing on public anger over the failure to pass a state budget. The fault for that lies primarily with the Legislature, but voters can’t summarily fire all 120 of them. [why not? It would be a different chaos! — Mcat]

Schwarzenegger has made his share of tactical mistakes over the budget, including wavering over a tax increase, which he has finally admitted is needed. But standing up to the union and its relentless demand for a contract the state can’t afford is not one of his errors.