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Daniel Ruth

They have our — and treefrogs' — best interests at heart

Never let it be said the Florida Legislature isn't a stickler for the tiny details of governance, leaving no stone unturned in its unrelenting quest to turn the state into Groucho Marx's Freedonia meets a subtropical, redneck Pyongyang. • It's been a busy, busy, busy time in Tallahassee, or as it is better known among the capital's influence peddlers: Pols to Go.

The Legislature has been presided over by those two noted used shark salesmen of state politics, least-selling author Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Where's Mine?, who received $152,000 to pen a single copy of Florida Government — A Coloring Book, and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-A Gift? For Me? You Shouldn't Have, who while insisting he has no further electoral aspirations, still lathered himself in $365,000 in presession gratuities from deep-pocketed special interests.

Imagine how well Cannon would have done had he been consumed with ambition?

Over the last hectic 60 days or so, the Florida Legislature has burned the midnight oil to legalize bribing members of the Florida Legislature (call this merely constituent service), turned teaching into a profession only slightly more rewarding than Osama bin Laden's courier, opened the gates to pave over wetlands and, aghast that so many citizens were exercising their right to vote, moved swiftly to make it harder to vote. Whew, that was a close one.

Remarkably, lawmakers managed to find a few precious moments away from lining their pockets to also ban doctors from asking patients about the presence of guns in the home. It's an epidemic, is what it is.

But wait! There's more!

No doubt you have probably turned to your spouse and said, "Sweetie Bunchkin-Pie, dag-nabit, why is it Florida doesn't have an official state amphibian?" I know I have.

After all, how can a state on the cutting edge of the 18th century expect to lure business investment to Florida if corporations were to know we don't have an official slimy thing critter to honor? Thank goodness, state Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Lower Yoknapatawpha County, was willing to step into the breach by sponsoring a bill to name the barking treefrog as Florida's official icky-poo-poo amphibian.

And after an impassioned speech, complete with audio of the barking treefrog … barking, an emotional Senate unanimously voted to at long last correct this gross injustice by approving the barking treefrog's official state amphibian status. Who says bipartisanship is dead?

Alas, the House has yet to embrace Oelrich's statesmanship, revealing an obvious liberal soft-on-barking treefrogs bias. But it's not too late. There's still today. Perhaps if the National Association of Barking Treefrogs can send several thousand dollars of baksheesh to Cannon's Leadership Fund, the speaker will exercise some leadership in getting the frog thing passed. You can't put too a high a price on good government, although Cannon is certainly willing to try.

Still, the Legislature has been quite consumed with its own labors, finally addressing the "Stop Having Sex With Animals, Right Now! And That Means You, Bub! Bestiality Bill." Who would have ever guessed date night with a manatee was a particular problem in Florida, unless this was nothing more than an effort to keep up with Mississippi social mores?

But the legislative juggernaut only continued to roll along, as our public servants finally took on the civic curse of people walking around with their pants hanging down, thus exposing their tuckus for all the world to see.

The measure would crack down (sorry, couldn't resist) on those individuals who are of the opinion the rest of us enjoy watching them stroll around in public with their keisters drooping over their pants. As a matter of fact, we do not — unless of course you happen to be Penelope Cruz. There's always room for an exception to every rule.

A cautionary word, however. Much like the kerfuffle over concealed weapons, where some lawmakers fretted that people meandering about carrying their rocket-propelled grenade launcher under their jacket might be subject to prosecution if a gust of wind happened to inadvertently expose their blunderbuss, what happens if one is innocently moving about the mall only to have one's pants accidentally fall down, thus revealing one's Daffy Duck boxers over a huge, enormous buttock?

It's merely a public policy question to consider for next year's session.

So much to do. So little time. So many checks to cash.

It will be close, but you can rest assured the House and Senate will get their vital work completed in time tonight for the ceremonial dropping of the white hanky. It's called "Sine Die," which is Latin for: "The session may be over but in Tallahassee the ATMs never sleep."

They have our — and treefrogs' — best interests at heart 05/05/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2011 6:41pm]
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