This could have been the mother of all spit-take moments, but considering I was ingesting some very nice scotch at the time, I summoned the inner discipline of a thousand Spartans to keep things where they belonged.
There it was in black and white, a heretofore unpublished e-mail from former Gov. Jeb Bush addressed to then Gov.-elect Rick Scott, advising his successor once removed that he should "have fun and enjoy the job!"
For Bush, who treated his time in Tallahassee as if it was an eight-year novena, to encourage Scott to lighten up and have fun in the Governor's Mansion is rich. Few other figures in Florida politics have approached governing as if it was a burdensome cross to bear. Bush's idea of a good time was to pave over a wetland.
Now here's Bush setting the stage for Scott, who has less of a sense of humor than Iran's wacky, zany Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to show up at work with a Steve Martin arrow through his head.
It's remarkable the e-mail even surfaced. It seems at least some e-mails created during the Scott transition period and required to be preserved under the state's public records laws have been deleted. Yet Bush's e-epistles to Scott survived. Think of them as the Dead Sea Scrolls of Miami.
Bush is a policy wonk's policy wonk. To him, a Heritage Foundation analysis of the tax code is sexier than a Playboy centerfold. So some of the advice Bush passed along to Scott, based on his long years of treating members of the Florida Legislature as if they were boils to be lanced, certainly had some merit.
For example, Bush was quite correct to tell Scott to "own the budget," since regardless of what the Legislature decides on the numbers, the governor carries it out and gets the blame or the credit. Naturally Scott ignored the lesson.
Oddly enough, Bush also counseled Scott to "listen, learn and lead." This from a governor who threatened to have his staff toss Democratic state Sen. Kendrick Meek's keister out of his office when the legislator attempted to stage a sit-in protest over Bush's plan to gut affirmative action protections for state contracts and university admissions.
Perhaps he had heard enough.
In his dispatches to Scott, Bush could not resist digging at his immediate successor, Charlie Crist. He whines that he prepared a similar to-do list letter for Crist. "But he did nothing I suggested," Bush writes with a sense of a disappointed sigh coming off the page, as if his advice to George Custer that he might need just a few more men had been ignored. And look what happened.
Crist insists he never received so much as a Hallmark greeting card from Bush beyond a copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, which the Leon County Library would very much like returned one of these days.
Without elaboration, Bush also cryptically suggests to Scott that he work closely with his Florida Department of Law Enforcement security detail — unlike Crist and the late Lawton Chiles who, he writes, put the agents in "difficult positions by rejecting their involvement in their private lives."
It is true Chiles sometimes preferred to cavort in the woods without his security detail while shooting unsuspecting animals. As for Crist, good grief, this was a governor who had FDLE security in tow when he went for toothpaste at CVS.
If Bush is going to accuse former governors, one of whom is dead, of some vague misuse of their security teams, he ought to provide details or otherwise keep his advice to Scott more along the lines of how to keep shafting public school teachers.
It's a pity Chiles isn't around to advise Scott. Maybe the late governor would have encouraged the new guy in the Governor's Mansion to follow his lead and fire off a potato gun in the general direction of the Capitol. Nothing much came of it. But it sure was fun.