As rich-guy candidates go, Jeff Greene is funner than Rick Scott.
Scott, a Republican candidate for governor, has a simple, ho-hum story line. He ran a big hospital company. The company ripped off the government and the taxpayers for many years but Scott did not know it; maybe the sun was in his eyes. Mistakes were made and lessons were learned.
So far, enough Republican voters are okay with this to put Scott in front of Bill McCollum, the state's attorney general, who is being propped up and dragged around by so many old-guard Republicans these days that his campaign looks like Weekend at Bernie's.
Poor Bill! Here's the worst thing for him: It's not that Republican primary voters are dummies; they know Scott's background but like him better anyway — Gov. Fraud instead of Gov. Howdy Doody.
And yet, no matter how fun it is that a nouveau, not-indicted, robber-corporation ex-executive is on the verge of becoming the Republican nominee for governor, Jeff Greene is funner still. (Do not write to say that "funner" is not a word. See Through the Looking Glass, Chapter VI.)
Perhaps this is because the billionaire Greene, compared to Scott, is less of a threat to hold actual office. Greene has decided to try to buy a mere U.S. Senate seat against Kendrick Meek, a U.S. House member from Miami.
No matter which of these two Democrats wins, the eventual senator is more likely to be the no-party governor, Charlie Crist, or the Republican, Marco Rubio.
Part of Greene's fun-ness is his yacht, the 145-foot Summerwind. Ha, ha! You never know where it might show up or who might be on it. It showed up in Cuba, for instance, a hangout that does not win you popularity contests in Miami.
In a debate Greene explained he was there on a "humanitarian mission," which implied perhaps feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and personally undermining Castro. But wait! Later his spokesman said Greene had, you know, misspoken. The party boat was there because of a mere breakdown. Oh, well.
Before that the yacht was in Belize, where, according to local authorities and extensive reports, it dropped anchor on an irreplaceable coral reef. Nobody is sayin' that Greene personally stood there and gave the command, but do you want a U.S. senator whose boat runs around destroying coral reefs?
His campaign's response was fun, too: Greene's spokesman simply denied, in the face of all evidence, that the anchor-dropping had occurred at all. Surely, an incredulous reporter asked, you would like to reconsider this claim? "That's our position. That's our quote," the spokesman said.
There was a strong article over the weekend by my colleagues Kris Hundley and Caryn Baird about a California condo project once owned by Greene that became an extensive mortgage fraud, using straw-man buyers at inflated prices with loans that were never intended to be repaid. This cost the taxpayers about $34 million.
Greene blames the whole thing on the guy he did business with in California, who is facing criminal charges. Greene enabled it by signing blank deeds over to the guy, but as Greene explained, "I'm always signing blank deeds."
He's always signing blank deeds! What a coincidence —me, too! It's how I spend my spare time.