Ultimately, argues Maclachlan, Schwarzenegger’s trademark issue might also define his entire governorship.

In some ways, Schwarzenegger’s environmental legacy is like his governorship in microcosm, embracing the middle road in a partisan environment. Leading green-minded Democrats took him to task in the areas where they disagreed. Most Republicans disliked that he was taking on environmental issues at all. That, in a nutshell, can describe the Schwarzenegger governorship as a whole.

As all three note, it is history—and his successor, Jerry Brown—that will define Schwarzenegger. But in the meantime, we will be keeping an eye on the California press to see which way Schwarzenegger’s “tomatometer” tips as he begins to pack his bags.

Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.