In our nominee for strange political bedfellows, we have a new entry – George Gorton and the card clubs vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Garry South and the Indian tribes. In the wake of the new compact deals signed by the governor and five tribes last week, Schwarzenegger has vowed to oppose a measure sponsored by card clubs and race tracks that would cut them in on the slot machine action, standing instead with the tribes he demonized during the recall campaigns.

The card clubs had hoped the governor might support their initiative if Schwarzenegger’s talks with tribal leaders broke down. But now that a compact deal has been reached, the governor has endorsed a slot machine monopoly for tribes, and vowed to raise millions to defeat the card clubs’ proposal.

Gorton, one of Schwarzenegger’s top political aides, says he will stay on as a paid consultant for the card club initiative. Sources close to the governor say Schwarzenegger will begin lobbying supporters of the initiative to withhold contributions to the campaign. That could prove a true test of the governor’s charm and political skill, since the card clubs have spent millions on the campaign already.

Gorton downplayed the Schwarzenegger angle, saying it was not uncommon for political consultants and clients to be on the opposite side of an issue. But it’s hard to imagine, say, Garry South running a campaign for an initiative opposed by Gray Davis.

South will, however, be standing with Schwarzenegger against Gorton. South has been hired by a coalition of Indian tribes to run the campaign against the club card measure.