Rick Scott swallowed his pride (and probably some bile) and walked into the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday morning.
Wearing his trademark boots — the ones with the state seal and "45th GOVERNOR" embroidered on the front — Scott settled in for an hour's worth of questioning.
This was part of the "Reinventing Rick" tour, the one he launched when his approval ratings dipped just below head lice.
Yes, things had gotten so bad for the governor that he grudgingly agreed to do the previously unthinkable … answer questions.
Within the hour, Scott gave thorough answers to a few questions, incomplete or evasive ones to many more — and at least once told a flat-out lie.
Oh, and I'm pretty sure he has a man-crush on Rick Perry.
On at least three different topics, Scott longed for Florida to be more like Gov. Perry's Texas. (Presumably, that doesn't include the Lone Star State's tar-covered beaches. But Scott later said he wasn't ready to rule out near-shore drilling off Florida's coast. So who knows?)
Scott knows his stuff when it comes to business issues. He also offered encouraging talk of reforming the state's work-force boards (more on that in Sunday's column).
But he is woefully out of touch with the common man.
The best (worst) example of that came when editorial board chief Mike Lafferty read a question submitted by a reader via Twitter: "How can you justify having taxpayers pay for your health care while you oppose the same type of coverage for them?"
Scott responded: "I get the same health care every other state employee gets."
That is simply untrue.
The vast majority of state employees are not eligible for the taxpayer-subsidized plan Scott gets — $8 a month for individuals and $30 for families. It's only for a certain class of folks — including elected officials, political appointees and high-ranking bureaucrats.
Most state workers pay more than five times as much. It's still a good deal. And still subsidized. But it's not what Scott gets.
If I had to guess, Scott's fib wasn't intentional. It was probably based on being uninformed. And you can rightfully argue that taxpayers still come out ahead regarding his compensation, because he made a campaign pledge to take no salary.
But it's still telling that the state's chief executive is so clearly unaware of the benefits his employees receive — even as he fights to cut them.
The other particularly revealing exchange involved business regulation.
In short: Scott hates it.
Still, the ed board asked him if there aren't some professions — those with a sordid history of fleecing consumers, including telemarketers, time shares and auto mechanics — that need regulating.
Don't consumers deserve some basic level of protection from fraud?
Scott couldn't bring himself to say yes.
Instead, he offered a vignette about two businesses in the same profession where one followed the rules and the other did not. He said that was unfair… to the business that followed the rules.
Think about that for a minute.
Under Scott's scenario, one business is breaking the rules and potentially fleecing customers. And yet, instead of cracking down on that business, he wants to make it so the other business can do the same?
That's telling … and disturbing.
You can look for video of Scott's interview with the ed board at OrlandoSentinel.com/opinion.
There, you can also see the governor claiming that he really wants to give schools more money — but won't call a special session of the Legislature to make that happen because House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos can't deliver the votes.
Apparently another part of "Reinventing Rick" is throwing fellow pols under the bus.
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