Amazing, isn't it, how political ambition can turn a couple of pols into born-again profiles in polenta.
You can't escape the nagging suspicion that if state Sens. Mike Haridopolos, R-Brave, Brave Sir Robin, and Greg Evers, R-Barney Fife, were ever taken prisoners of war they would give up the nuclear codes, the formula for Coca-Cola and the D-day invasion plans under the brutal duress of a noogie.
It was only a few days ago that Senate President Haridopolos and Evers, his fellow Republican Renfield, thought the notion of constructing a high-speed rail from Orlando to Tampa was simply a spiffy idea.
Then Gov. Rick Scott, after doing intensive financial due diligence by consulting palm readers, tarot cards and chicken bones, announced he was going to reject a proposal that would have brought $2.4 billion in federal dollars to the state and generated as many as 24,000 jobs.
The governor made his decision without bothering to consult the Republican-led Legislature, which Scott seems to regard as his personal collection of bath water-testing vassals.
Just a tad peeved over being treated as if they were squatters on Scott's Naples estate, a bipartisan group of 26 of the Senate's 39 current members fired off a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — with the attaboy acquiescence of Haridopolos. The letter essentially suggested that the governor is a bit loopy, so please allow the state more time to figure out a way around the Gov. Le Petomane of Tallahassee.
The ink was barely dry on the LaHood missive before Haridopolos and Evers, displaying all the courage of a thousand lemmings, hung their own colleagues out to dry by publicly announcing that upon further review they were really opposed to high-speed rail after all. Really! Honest!
Cue the O'Jays' Backstabbers.
Good grief, Evers, R-Emily Litella, had even signed the letter to LaHood, only to dash off another communique to the secretary telling him to pay no mind to the first letter since he had fallen off his horse on the way to Crestview and was now firmly convinced high-speed rail was an onerous plot cooked up by Lenin, the Tri-lateral Commission and ACORN.
At the rate these chaps are running away, they make Fredo Corleone look like Nathan Hale.
In his mea culpa letter to LaHood, Evers insisted he believed the contents of the original multisignature manifesto "misconstrued my position on high-speed rail."
Oh really? All the brief, seven-sentence letter to LaHood states is that the group of senators is asking for more time to reconfigure the rail plan for the sake of economic development, concluding that "politics should have no place in the future of Florida's transportation."
And Evers suddenly decides he is against that?
For his part, Haridopolos, demonstrating all the Spartan heroism of a thousand snipes, was happy to throw his Senate colleagues under the train after a grumble of tea party cluckers got their spats in a wad over the notion Florida might be on the cusp of committing progress.
Haridopolos wants to be the next U.S. senator and so nothing says bold, visionary, principled leadership more than caving in to the first waft of a pouting special interest group with a checkbook.
This ought to make for an interesting upcoming legislative session with Republican members finding themselves supposedly led by the Eddie Haskell of Melbourne, who will sell himself out faster than an Afghan treasury minister.
It was Evers, R-Boo!, who during his five minutes of backbone after Scott blew up the high-speed rail plan mused that the governor should "talk to us first."
Why should Scott bother if he knows he can slap around the Legislature and the Tallahassee power structure and everybody will start cowering before him like Elizabeth Taylor's eunuchs in Cleopatra?
Even the powerful lobby group Associated Industries of Florida, which had supported high-speed rail before Scott consulted voo-doo economists, his astrological chart and tea bag grounds, flip-flopped and opposed the project after the governor offered up his Baghdad Bob reasoning for killing high-speed rail.
Politicians, much like thieves, only have their word between themselves to rely on. Haridopolos and Evers proved to their colleagues that when the going gets tough, they get going out the nearest back door.
No doubt this session Haridopolos will promise to have his members' backs. After all, they make for such lovely targets.