One year ago, at the Santa Monica Baykeeper’s Beach Ball, former California EPA Secretary and current Cabinet Secretary Terry Tamminen said of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, “He shares your passion. You’ve got a friend in Sacramento.” This year, he had a chance to honor that friend.

The action hero turned California chief exec was the man of the hour at this year’s 12th annual beach bash.

It was a picture perfect evening as clean water revelers gathered on the grass at the palatial estate of David and Linda Foster.

Longtime Baykeeper pals like Councilmember Sharon Barovsky and Mayor Andy Stern checked out the silent auction items while snacking on curried spring rolls and brie quesadilla. Come sundown, it was show time. The governor arrived looking relaxed, tan and confident, sporting a beige cotton suit, open collar shirt and his trademark ear-to-ear grin.

Even amid a normally jaded Malibu crowd, the Governator was besieged with autograph and photo requests. “Wow, what a handshake,” marveled guest Barry Glaser, massaging his palm. Well, what would you expect from a guy who played both Hercules and Conan the Barbarian?

“You know, I’ve always said to myself that some day, I want to work for an Austrian body builder who becomes the governor of California,” Tamminen mused. On a more serious note, he went on to recount some of Schwarzenegger’s environmental accomplishments like banning pollution generated by cruise ships.

Schwarzenegger, meantime, vowed to terminate oil drilling off the coast and say “hasta la vista” to air pollution.

In a short period of time, Schwarzenegger and Tamminen have become fast friends as well as colleagues. The governor was quick to give NRDC champ Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a lot of credit. “Bobby said to me, ‘It’s not just the economy, you have to address the environment. And if you want to address the environment you have to meet Terry Tamminen.'” The rest is history.

Tamminen presented the governor with this year’s Frank G. Wells Founders Award. The Baykeeper also honored a handful of other loyal supporters like Linda Thompson, Ozzie Silna and Gil Segel. Executive Director Tracy Egoscue crowed about an ambitious project to fix hundreds of leaking sewer pipes, something she called the organization’s biggest victory yet.

The evening was a mix of awareness and entertainment and, in keeping with tradition, music man David Foster put on quite a show. He started off with a body-twisting, torso-contorting pole dance performance by Vertical Tango (think Cirque du Soleil meets Scores). Next, Dave tickled the ivories while son Brandon Jenner serenaded the crowd. William Joseph offered up a combo of classical and classic rock. The evening ended on a very long, very high note with smooth jazz icon Kenny G.

Yes, it was a delightful evening of Malibu glitz and glamour but, according to Schwarzenegger, the Baykeeper’s friends and supporters were the real stars. “Thanks for all your hard work,” he said. “And I’ll be back.”