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Don’t get us wrong: we don’t hate the Anschutz Examiner. We think the paper does a fine job covering San Francisco, and as one of the city’s two remaining print dailies, it’s also a vital job. Love it or hate it, the city needs the Examiner and would be worse off without it — we hope readers realize this as they watch last week’s Exys rot in driveways and molder in storm drains.

We don’t even have an issue with the organ’s editorial slant, which is somewhat right of Michael Savage — we appreciate small government and fiscal responsibility as much as the next guy, even if we don’t quite jive with the reasons why offered by former National Review editors.

So it wasn’t the paper’s front-page endorsements of Meg Whitman for governor or Carly Fiorina for US Senate that raised our eyebrows Thursday morning — nor was it even the paper’s endorsement of Proposition 16, the shamelessly-and-solely-by-PG&E-funded “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act.” It was *how* the Examiner endorsed the power utility’s blatantly-self-serving measure: with an emphatic never-before-seen “HELL YES.” (Follow this link to see the cover for yourself.)

The Examiner is a bit of a maverick publication — with two covers dedicated to McCain-Palin leading up to the 2008 presidential election — but this is way out there. Papers in red-state bastions like Redding, Bakersfield and Fresno have all come out against the measure, with editorials explaining why. But no explanatory screed accompanied the Examiner’s “HELL YES,” leaving us to wonder, “Well, ok, but hell why?”

The short answer is, of course, money: SF-based PG&E has tons of it, and The Examiner is reportedly running in the red. Did the Examiner finally throw caution to the wind, and answer questions like, “Is this newspaper a shameless shill for anyone who can pay” with a “HELL YES”?

The Appeal e-mailed the Examiner’s executive editor and publisher yesterday, and we’ll let you know what the hell they say. Until then, we pledge to answer all questions — about anything — with a HELL YES. That will be sufficient, thank you.

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