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Say what you will about their differences, but Edmund Gerald Brown, Jr. and Christopher James Christie share a trait all too rare in politics these days: they speak their mind.

Neither governor would probably admit to their similarities, of course, especially after Christie took a pretty big swipe at Brown Monday: he called him a has-been.

"California made a bad choice by electing an old re-tread, said Christie to the laughs and applause of his Republican brethren from the Golden State at their breakfast event.

"Let me tell you this, I cannot believe you people elected Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman."

But the Garden State's top dog was just getting warmed up:

"Jerry Brown? I mean, he won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old. And now, I've got to sit at the National Governors Association with this guy, and have him come up to me and say, 'Governor Christie, stop telling people that I want to raise taxes. I'm not trying to raise taxes.' And I say, 'Yeah you are, Jerry.' And he says, 'No, I'm going to put it on the ballot and let the people decide.' Man, that's leadership, isn't it?"

Christie certainly got the response he was expecting from California Republicans, no doubt happy to be somewhere where they aren't an endangered species.

While Brown didn't reply, but his spokesman did.

"California is leading the nation in job growth while New Jersey's economy has stalled with rising unemployment under Governor Christie," emailed Brown press secretary Gil Duran. "This windstorm of rhetoric is a transparent attempt by Governor Christie to distract from his massively failed track record on the economy."

Which begs the question: governors notwithstanding, how do the two solidly Democratic states match up?

Examining the topic that Team Brown raised -- job creation -- California seems to be besting New Jersey, but a smaller proportion of Jerseyans are without jobs.

The above chart shows that the two states had relatively similar peaks and valleys in unemployment, albeit with California's more pronounced, thorough mid-2009. That's when California started to really struggle.

But whereas the last few months have been promising for folks here, New Jersey's jobless rate has remained fairly consistent. in fact, the last two months have seen a slight uptick.

There's also some data to suggest New Jersey doesn't quite have a sunnier disposition on an issue that's anathema to Republicans: taxation.

The conservative leaning Tax Foundation doesn't have much positive to say about California tax rates, but it has even less happy comments about those in New Jersey. The Golden State has a higher top personal income tax rate (10.3 percent versus 8.97 percent) and a slightly higher general sales tax rate, but New Jersey has a higher corporate tax rate and a per capital property tax rate.

What conservatives call "tax freedom day" -- the day on which someone has earned enough money to pay their taxes -- comes later in New Jersey (May 1), says the Tax Foundation, than it does in California (April 20).

It only gets worse if you're New Jersey, better if you're California; the think tank's 2012 business tax climate survey ranked California 48th worst... but New Jersey at number 50, the bottom of the heap.

And then there's this: the Tax Foundation ranks New Jersey state and local tax burden the highest in the nation. California? Number six.

Gov. Christie's jab about "leadership" may also not be all it's cracked up to be. That's the assessment of Chris Megerian of the Los Angeles Times, who recently joined California's statehouse press corps from a job covering Garden State politics for the (Newark) Star-Ledger.

Megerian tweeted on Monday that Christie's jab on asking the voters to sort out a tough issue begged a comparison to the New Jersey governor's stance on same-sex marriage.

"Let's let the people of New Jersey decide what is right for the state," Gov. Christie said at a town hall in January.

None of this, of course, is to say that Gov. Brown couldn't learn a thing or two from one of the most quoted and buzzed about politicians in the country. And, like Brown at an earlier age, Christie is often heralded as the new face of a political generation.

But these two men seem to share a love for the political rough and tumble. And let's call it right here: Brown and Christie debating the issues of the day would be a great show.

So how about it? Shall they meet halfway? That looks like a debate in... shall we say... Kearney, Nebraska?

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