You can tell a candidate will do just about anything to win an election when he is willing to sell his political soul to the biggest fibber.
Is former Pinellas County Sheriff Everett Rice really trying to get his old job back? Or is he running to become the constable in chief of the planet Doo-Wacka-Doo?
Before he went further off the deep end than Thelma & Louise, Rice was a typical Pinellas County Republican — reasonably moderate, rationally pragmatic, fairly sensible. But as he attempts a return to elected office, suddenly the former sheriff has decided to go all Col. Kurtz on everyone.
Rice has aligned himself with a Star Wars barroom scene of the lunatic fringe meets the Oliver Stone Society of Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Lemmings. He apparently isn't interested in wearing a badge again. A tinfoil hat will do just fine.
The aspiring Andy of Mars is playing footsie-wootsie with the likes of Richard Mack, the leader of something called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which is dedicated to teaching law enforcement officials how to defy the federal government. Mack is also the beefcake boy of the black helicopter crowd of birthers, tax protesters and militia supporters. Think of this as a trifecta of Travis Bickles.
Rice has also blown air kisses in the direction of the Oath Keepers, who believe Barack Obama wants to turn the nation into a totalitarian police state. Who knew the Affordable Health Care Act was written by that scamp, Karl Marx?
But Rice was only just getting his Glenn Beck bunker-warming party going. He filled up his dance card with the Agenda 21 fan club, who believe the U.N. Rio Declaration on Environment and Development is a New World Order plot to take over America and redistribute its wealth.
If Rice tilts any more to the long-ago and far-away right wing, he is going to make Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche, R-Who Stole the Strawberries, look like a Kennedy.
The Barack Obama-Was-Born-in-Lower-Slabobia birth certificate canard has been discredited time and time again. But Rice mused the other day he still isn't sure the president is a U.S. citizen. He also said he is willing to consider the Agenda 21 one world government gibberish being promoted by a spittoon of unhinged crazy people. Earth to Everett: You're running for sheriff of Pinellas County, not Potemkin County.
Just why Rice would so eagerly volunteer to become the poster child for the "We're All Doomed!" wing of the fact-challenged Bull Goose end of the political spectrum is something of a mystery. He could easily campaign on the experience of his 16 years as sheriff. He could simply rely on his name recognition. He could play up his law enforcement bona fides. And he certainly could have attacked the record of current Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who has had to deal with several embarrassing internal affairs scandals.
All very fair game.
Instead, Rice aligns himself with a cadre of sky-is-falling, delusional political misanthropes who see storm troopers hiding behind every jar of fluoride.
Say, that's what you really want in a chief law enforcement officer — the High Sheriff of Sapingham.
Rice tried to walk back his courtship of the radical right, arguing he really doesn't know all that much about the people who believe the United Nations wants to send you to a concentration camp run by a socialist president who was born to Fidel Castro and Eva Braun in Moscow — and they have the Hawaiian birth certificate to prove it, too!
So much for Rice's keen sleuthing skills.
Mack, in endorsing Rice for sheriff, argued the candidate has the courage to "protect liberty," as if to suggest if pushed to the wall on his commitment to "protect liberty" Gualtieri would beg off with: "If it's all the same to you, I'd rather not protect liberty at all."
Rice had a golden opportunity to confront the loopy conga line of conspiracy theorists trying to co-opt his campaign by telling them: "You people are goofy. Thanks but I'll do this myself."
Forget protecting liberty. How about preserving some dignity?