The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott to King of Spain: 'I've ridden elephants. I've never tried to shoot one.'

Gov. Rick Scott's trade mission to Spain this week has helped the Spaniards -- who are suffering with a depressed economy -- laugh out loud.

Newspapers and local television shows are howling at the exchange of greetings between King Juan Carlos and Scott, who was joined by his wife, Annette.

Here's how protocol and politics became parody.

Upon entering the King's office, Scott immediately asks the Spanish royalty about his hunting trip to Botswana, where the King injured his hip -- getting out of bed.

"I've ridden elephants. I've never tried to shoot one," Scott joked in shaking the King's hand.

The King seemed taken aback by the topic -- a sore subject for him in more ways than one. Not only did the King hurt himself physically on the trip but also politically. Spaniards were ticked that the King took such an expensive hunting trip at a time when the country is in such dire economic straits. About one in four Spaniards are unemployed.

Scott made matters worse when he continued to talk to the King about the Botswana trip by telling the story of his trip to the same African country.

On and on the conversation went -- much to the chagrin of the royalty in the room.

The King appears anything but comfortable in chatting about Scott's adventures in Botswana with his wife Annette.

The final punch line: Annette tells the King she wishes he had been in the jeep with them on their Botswana safari.

King Juan Carlos maintained his composure and, alas, did not respond to the governor as he did, memorably, to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in a 2007 summit of heads of state held in Chile.

After Chávez repeatedly interrupted Spain's then-prime minister, Jose Luis Zapatero, the exasperated king told Chávez, "¿Por qué no te callas?" -- "Why don't you shut up?"

The King's words briefly became a catchphrase, printed on T-shirts and featured on cellphone ringtones.

Sergio Bustos and Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald 

[Last modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 6:42pm]

    

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