In the meantime, it's not as if Patrick is uncomfortable with the Hollywood set. "I just saw Tallulah over winter break," he says, referring to the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. "I was at their house in Sun Valley." Although he just reunited with an ex, Patrick cockily refers to his tweet-mates Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez as "girls for the future."

"My eye, though," he adds, "is set on Miley."

Patrick Schwarzenegger at the beach in Venice Beach.

• • •

Patrick identifies most closely with the Kennedy-Shriver branch of the family, whose greatest public-service accomplishments have occurred outside the auspices of elected office. His late maternal grandparents are practically saints: Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics, and Sargent Shriver, a Democratic vice-presidential nominee, oversaw the creation of the Peace Corps. Patrick was close to both and refers to Sarge's recent funeral—particularly the sense of camaraderie he felt among his more than 100 cousins and the musical tributes from Bono and Wyclef Jean—as a "life-changing experience."

In an op-ed following the funeral, Arnold invoked Sarge's "call to service" as his ultimate reason for leaving Hollywood to run for governor. Patrick is, therefore, not only heir to America's most formidable political dynasty but also the modern-day embodiment—in every sense—of the self-made man. (His father barely spoke English when he arrived in America from Austria at 21. By the time he met Maria at a tennis tournament nine years later, he was a millionaire with real-estate holdings and a mail-order fitness-supply business.) In other words, Patrick signifies more than a six-pack. Amid all the prurience surrounding his Maha pics, one comment on the Awl placed his hot bod in its evolutionary-biological context: "Oh crap, they took the Kennedy looks and gave it muscles. That kid is going to rule us all." That's precisely what the image of Patrick portends. But using it to rule over all isn't necessarily what he wants. At least not yet.

• • •

In the first week of January, Patrick said goodbye to Calvin Johnson, his State of California-mandated bodyguard and one of his best friends since 2003. That same day, ushered home by his own staff, Arnold flew back from Sacramento for good.

"They brought my dad home from the airport, we all talked for a little while, and then"—Patrick pauses—"yeah, they left. It's like losing 30 family members in a single day."

But Patrick remembers life pre-Governator, when his father used to pick him up from school and take him to movie sets. In the trailer, the two would play chess. While his father was filming, Patrick would stay behind and watch TV. Arnold would often return to find his young son asleep and bundle him home.

Although Patrick eventually learned to appreciate the importance of his father's new job, it took a big toll. In a recent interview, Arnold alluded to "the damage my time as governor did to the family," to the moment when they told him "'We hate your job.'"

"My mom always talks about how hard it was to grow up in a political family," Patrick says. "It's always split up, and just—I want to have fun in life. No, politics isn't on the list."

Patrick is the rare 17-year-old who loves spending time with family. The best weeks of the year, he says, are in August, at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis, Massachusetts. "It's the only time every single person is together: the Shrivers, the Schwarzeneggers, the Kennedys. Everyone." Softball, capture the flag, touch football—not to mention high-stakes bets and dares: Competition on the Cape is fiercely fun. It's a tradition that extends back to when Jack, Bobby, and Teddy would lock horns on the lawn. If there isn't any pressure to win, it isn't fun.

"He's got a lot of guts and courage," says Anthony Shriver, who founded Best Buddies—a charity for people with mental disabilities—of his nephew, adding only that "he's done some crazy stuff." Patrick, who loooooves the Lakers, has a $700 bet with Heat fan Anthony about which team will go further in the NBA playoffs this year. But not all the stakes in Hyannis are competitive. Referring to his godfather and uncle, Timothy Shriver, who runs the Special Olympics, Patrick, a weekly churchgoer, says, "Timmy is pretty religious, so he's always spiritually kind of helping me." Patrick's reluctant to isolate his affections, though. "Everyone is always together on the boat."

"Coming from a family like Patrick's," Timothy says, "people anticipate superiority, bossiness, exclusivity, because most of the time, that's what you get from Hollywood kids. Patrick has absolutely none of that."

Schwarzenegger with Kimberly Barth and Nick Sheinberg,
his partners in Project360, his philanthropic fashion line.

• • •

It's a Tuesday afternoon in early March, and Patrick just got back from an after-school workout with his dad. "He's home all the time now," he says. Earlier, Arnold took him out for lunch. And earlier still, at 6 A.M., the two of them biked to Venice Beach and back. The topic of discussion: starting a business. "It's still secret," Patrick says, conceding only that it may have to do with a new fitness-supplement drink. Of his own volition—though there may be a genetic predisposition there—Patrick has enrolled in a five-day-a-week course at Santa Monica College (where Arnold once studied English) called Principles of Entrepreneurship.